Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) would be a lot less troublesome for IT if the number of choices people made was kept down.
So how do you do that and not be seen as the over-controlling ogre?
Let’s face it: the business will win the control fight. It’s hard to lose when executive row is on the “I want my favourite, and I want it now” side of the battle.
Still, there are things you can do, to limit the diversity.
Apps are a big part of getting some control back. Everyone — even the most die-hard supporter of the most obscure and miserable device — knows it’s unreasonable that you should support everything.
So create some attractors: small, quick, cheap apps that provide useful services, but are only available for the platforms you want to support.
Not platform — platforms. There has to be some choice left open.
Simple apps that make office life easier are a good beginning. Room booking on the fly, for instance.
You make these available for, let’s say, three platforms at most. iOS is a must. Android, probably — and you’ll have the chance to decide which ones you’re supporting. What screen factors, releases, etc.
Then you get to choose between RIM and Microsoft Windows Mobile (if you think their Metro tablets are in your future).
“But we’re a BlackBerry shop and committed to Microsoft.” you say?
Sorry, the market’s changing, and you’re going to have to change with it.
Odds are better than three in four that a BYOD item brought in will be Apple product, or Android product. RIM and Microsoft failed their competitive challenge.
While they’re not out of the game yet, they’re also not market leaders any longer. You have to recognize that reality if you’re going to succeed.
Your apps, in turn, are the opening to the idea of even more app interfaces to your systems. Here’s where you can start to embed the security and integrity controls you need.
Meanwhile, you’re producing things that are seen as valuable.
That builds your reputation, and the battle shifts from control to “here’s some money, can you make me a …”
That’s a good place to be.
BYOD is a great opportunity for IT, as long as IT starts to see itself as the in-house vendor making things for a marketplace rather than as the “one size fits all” controller of information services.
People — as Apple well knows — willingly give you control when you give them a reason to.