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Wrong thinking about Devices

by Daragh on April 19th, 2013

I’m addicted to the think. Every day, when not thoroughly occupied with the challenges of a client strategy or issue, I find myself drawn to hard thinking. Sometimes I even get people plying me with think.

Like this past few weeks. Lots of think.

One thing I’ve been asked to think about is the whole area of Bring Your Own Device, colloquially known as “BYOD”. I understand that this emerged as a term because people hoped that enterprise technology management would be a lot like a college house party. You’d bring a bottle and go home with two bottles of something better than you went with. Which in tech terms might be going with an Android JellyBean device and coming home with an iPhone and a Windows 8 slate.

But everyone is wrong. The focus is wrong. Because we have in effect focussed on the size, colour, shape, and label of the bottles in our BYOD/BYOB thinking. In doing so we’ve missed the importance of what is in those bottles. Which is important if you find out that you’ve arrived home from your party with two bottles of water when you had been expecting vodka.

From a process and governance perspective what we are actually dealing with is a classically simple issue that has just been obscured because:

  1. In the old days the company gave you your bottle and you where damn glad to have one (i.e. they provided the technology you used to do things)
  2. We entered the hooplah hype cycle at the time when everyone was jumping up and down like 5 year olds on Christmas morning when they find Santa has left them a bike. – “YAY!!!! TOYS!!!!!

What we are actually dealing with is a problem not of how to allow people to use their devices but rather a problem of how to give people access to resources in a secure and controlled manner when we don’t own the bottles any more. This requires organisations to do some thinking. What can be done to ensure that people are given access to resources in the right way?

Some thoughts spring to mind:

  1. Define standards for the bottle (the device) you will let people bring to the barrel to be filled with yummy data/booze. Provide data in 1 litre chunks, or require 32GB capacity and perhaps limit the OS versions you’ll allow
  2. Put a bottle in their pocket: Implement a standard workspace that sits on the device that you can control the parameters of.
  3. Sell them the bottles (i.e stick with only allowing approved company issue devices).

Of course, the world is a complicated place so when people start using their own device for work purposes it means there is a risk that the red wine you are giving them for work will be mixed with the white wine of their private personal world. That means the practice of giving them a bottle that is marked “WORK” would be sensible.

By reframing the thinking away from the fact that they are bringing a device to the party but instead looking at how access to data, applications, and other resources will be provided to n variants of platform the organisation can begin to think strategically without getting bogged down in detail.

It also gives a great branding opportunity for the strategy. This is a strategy for GIVING ACCESS TO OUR RESOURCES. Abbreviated it is a GATOR Strategy.

So, does your organisation have a GATOR strategy yet? If not, you should really get one. And make it snappy.

2 Comments
  1. David Smith permalink

    You also Ned to consider what benefits you want to realize. Two spring to mind.

    1. Saving on hardware spend. You wasn’t too leverage fact people already own devices as good or better than you would buy and it saves cost IF gator is cheaper than buying everyone a generic toy.

    2. You want to allow people to use their own apps, widgets and workflows they use in private life to increase their efficiency with your resources. Suspect this is what workers hope for (blessed freedom from whatever limited range of God awful tools corporate IT allows.

    Second potentially more valuable but a governance nightmare….

    • David

      Unfortunately regulatory compliance will require organisations to prescribe the means and methods of processing information. For example EU data protection rules or HIPPA.

      The challenge is to do this in a way that doesn’t invite work arounds.

      Creating a strategic GATOR framework moves thinking beyond just devices or apps and makes the org think about the access to resources and the risks associated with different approaches.

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