For those who haven’t spent much time thinking about the term, BYOD describes the new paradigm where individuals within an organization supply their own devices (mobile, laptop, iPad, whatever) that they need to perform their jobs. The theory goes that by following a BYOD approach an organization will spend less on hardware; employees will be more productive since they’re using the gear they want to use; better care will be taken of expensive devices; and overall productivity and efficiency will rise.
Much time has been spent (and rightly so) looking at the security implications of an organization moving from one or two different form factors and operating systems to a paradigm where there could conceivably be a wide variety of device types, sizes, operating systems and software. All of which provides numerous new and frightening vectors of vulnerability. Often, however, the security argument is used as a proxy for an organizations yearning for lock down, for control.
Looking past the security debate, there is a bigger, and more exciting change occurring in the work place; one that points to some realities around the adoption of cloud computing.
Almost 20 years ago I wrote a paper while studying about my vision for the organization of the future. I used the term “organic business” to describe what I foresaw happening – this modern organization would have a small permanent central hub, but beyond that it would make use of a vast array of different individuals with specific skills. These people would flow in and out of the organization on an ad hoc basis depending on the particular project being worked upon. Think of it like cells in the human body where a local infection (specific project) generates the attention of many different cells and systems in the body (project specific teams). These cells and systems sometimes work directly at the site of the infection, but also work in other areas of the body connected by a complex series of nervous and bio-chemical connections. This complex relationship between local and remote systems, permanent and temporary involved systems and complex communication channels perfectly mimics this modern organization that I prognosticated.
If this is the way the future looks, then how can we possibly expect an organization to control device types? This is fundamentally impossible, as a company will no longer have a hard edge between employees and the outside world. Rather it will have a massive selection of operatives who come and go regularly, but who all need to be kept in contact with their other team members – often times in vastly different time zones, geographies and working paradigms. The future then is about open architectures; the adoption of broad API strategies that allow every possible device to interact with core organization data; and an acceptance that everyone related to an organization will be working in a place, with a method, within a time zone and on a device that differs from those working alongside them.
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)