So here you are, hip deep in the “I would like … and I’m going to get” era of IT.
The business is littered with strange devices, “as a service” contracts, and applications written for them by who-knows-who.
You’re the Chief Information Officer! What are you going to do about this mess?
Let’s talk about what won’t work, and then what will.
If you’re thinking that now would be a good time to assert yourself, making the kinds of moves attributed to world-class CEOs that make the front cover of the business magazines (jaw helpfully pushed out, camera shot just a little upward to make them look taller and more forceful), there’s a word from Seinfeld to keep in mind.
The moment you personalize this battle, it’s lost. The rest is just how much time it takes to take you down.
The strong, fearless, “in command” CIO model was matched to the challenges of the previous IT era. It’s how you forced the major packages in, how you got Y2K handled, how you injected security and compliance into the mix.
This era, though, is the exact opposite. Technology is dirt cheap, publicly available, easy to buy and use.
No, it’s not easy to integrate and protect. But we’re dealing here with entry costs. Even in the most tightly-controlled enterprises, the ability to pay for a device, or pay for a service on the public Internet, is well within the signing authority of almost any manager.
Indeed, a great deal of it comes in as “expenses”, and never sees a purchase order at all.
So what should you do?
Now you need to have the various parts of the enterprise at the table with you. That means walking away from being “the big kahuna” or the “top gun” and instead becoming “first among equals”.
One voice amongst many, working to shape a future that your peers buy into.
One where trade-offs are made, where you give this to get that.
That’s the sort of thing an IT Governing Board does: a permanent collegial body that makes policy decisions and prioritizes investments and directions.
Much like a Board of Directors is supposed to do in a corporation: strategy, policy, direction, but not management.
Good governing boards keep the players at your table, understanding the issues, casting the votes to limit themselves, feeling bound by their decisions.
The djinn won’t be back in the bottle — but you’ll have built a bigger bottle you can live with to deal with these times.
And you’ll be the “good cop” — Jane Q. Employee’s own boss will be the one saying “no.”
That’s how you slowly wrestle the BYOD era into shape.