Business of IT: Building a case for BYOD

The consumerisation of IT is upon us and business and technology decision makers must now decide whether they are for or against BYOD. Stephen Pritchard considers the options.

Hewertson consciously set out create a scheme that applies to all staff, not just senior management.

But often, it is senior managers who provide the impetus for BYOD programmes, explains Jeanne Harris, of Accenture's Institute of High Performance. "Executives often bring their devices to work, regardless of corporate policy," she warns. "But the percentage of people finding that a personal device is more useful to them than a company provided device, and being willing to pay for one themselves, is increasing."

The other driver for BYOD is younger workers, who often find corporate IT restrictive as well as less productive than consumer technology. A recent Cisco study suggested that some staff might even accept a lower salary, if it meant they could choose their own devices.

But while not all employees would go that far, companies are having to adjust to a more blurred distinction between work and personal life, and the technology that supports both. And this does raise a number of concerns about security, data privacy and device management.

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According to ISACA, an internet security body, managing personal devices from a security and data protection point of view is one of the top five issues for CIOs. Chief among CIOs' concerns is data leakage and what Colt's Hewertson calls the "Dropbox" problem: employees using consumer data sharing sites to move information between machines. Colt is looking at using tools such as the Baseline Desktop Analyser (BDA) from software vendor RES, as well as enterprise-grade cloud storage, to ensure data security.

And although, as Accenture's Jeanne Harris points out, the next generation of smartphones might be able to run corporate and personal applications on separate processor cores, for now ensuring data security and privacy means setting clear policies, as much as it relies on technology.

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