Not since the Casual Friday Rebellion of the '70s have corporate policies been flouted with such fervor as with the recent Bring Your Own Device Revolution. Employees want their iPhones and iPads. (Yes, there other devices like Android, but most accounts lay blame for the revolt at the feet of Jobs, et al, whose groundbreaking designs incited a level of fanaticism not experienced by electronic appliances in the past.) And, if that weren't enough, their ballsy insurrection has spread beyond consumer devices to use of unsanctioned consumer apps.
"As devices come in, apps inevitably follow," said Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy for MobileIron, a provider of mobile device management solutions. "We are seeing an explosion of apps in the workplace that we call the 'Enterprise AppStorm' and in the next 12-18 months every [Global 200] company is going to have hundreds of apps being used by thousands of users. The challenge for IT is having visibility into what non-corporate sanctioned apps are doing."
They also want unfettered use of SMS, high-speed data and location-based services, said Josh Liption CTO of Advantix Solutions Group, a provider of managed wireless services. "They want no restriction on what they are doing. They want to use that phone however they want," he said, adding that they also want "immediate access to support and problem resolution."
Unlike the threat of an offending T-shirt or wardrobe malfunction, the risks from BYOD and, now, BYOA are significant. Exposing the corporate network to malware, losing control of sensitive company data, taxing corporate bandwidth and burdening understaffed IT departments are a few of the big ones. The knee-jerk reaction is to just say no. Businesses, after all, are rarely democracies. In fact, that is not what's happening.
A study published in mid-May by Cisco said 95 percent of businesses permit employee devices on their network to some level or another. InformationWeek said it's 90 percent. ZK Research said it's 82 percent. Either way, it's a lot. All of the tenacious (or clueless) road warriors and cubicle rebels out there can take credit for the success of "Operation: Going Rogue." Realistically, it's hard to stop employees from bringing their own devices and applications en masse, so companies — realizing there are some potential upsides — are looking for ways to manage its downsides. This involves a lot of policies and processes and a few technologies. That's where channel partners come in.
"Channel partners can help organizations define BYOD policies and implement a workflow for enabling and managing employee-owned devices," said Robert Fenstermacher, director of product and solutions marketing for Aruba Networks. "Then a channel partner can help with implementing technology to onboard new devices and finally enforce policy on those devices."