Today I’d like to look at the other side of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) question.
Not the “how do we turn this to our advantage?” side — the “how do we put the clamps on this?” side.
There are organizations — a few — where having to have iron-clad control is essential to the enterprise’s success.
There are also organizations — sadly, many — where the idea of loosening control is just not thinkable, at least yet.
So how might you put the genie back in the bottle?
Well, you’d have to start by issuing mobile technologies to anyone who wanted them. Gone would be the day of “only people of a certain rank” get them, or “only people with an approved case” get them.
When you can go to the mall, stop by the phone kiosk, and walk out with a fully functional smartphone for less than $100 and less than $50 a month, all the bureaucracy of business assets just got turned on its head.
So unionized staff will be carrying technology just like managers do; clerks will have it just like executives do.
At least if you make it a universal tool you can buy in bulk and standardize on one model, right?
Well, no — because every vendor refreshes their product line at least three times faster than contract lengths. One vendor is about as good as it will get.
Then you’re going to have to lock down the devices so that people can’t download from app stores? Think again.
Remember the person who bought an iPhone or Android phone while still carrying his “official” BlackBerry? It was the app store that drove that purchase.
So, if you’re going to lock down the app stores, you’re going to have to offer all the apps people need anyway, either written in house or approved from the store and part of your standard configuration.
That puts you in the Facebook, Twitter, news reader, etc. business just as much as it might put you in the Salesforce.com client business.
But, at least you’re in control of the data on the device, right?
Think again: people will buy their own device to have access to their personal email account, contacts, etc.
So you’ll have to let them configure those on their device to keep the others at bay. But now you’ve got the problem of combined data: theirs, and yours.
You’ll also be installing WiFi everywhere, because you won’t like the cellular service bills if you let everyone default constantly to the network.
By the time you’ve achieved the control, you look a lot like the shop that simply learned how to live with device diversity.
Except that every time you’ve decided what people will carry, or how they can use it, you’ve made enemies.
The other shop? They’re at least neutral — perhaps even made a few allies.
If it were me, I’d yield early, and turn it to my advantage. Technology is now a personal matter.