The CTO made me do it

by Brian Katz on September 27, 2012 · 0 comments

Scene Setting:

It’s a Friday at 11:00am. It’s been a long week. You’ve been working on making sure the BES servers are running properly. You were woken up early, barely after you had gone to sleep after the football game, by an outage alert. You’ve already informed the European Service desk that the blackberry outage that they saw this morning wasn’t the company’s fault, but another issue with RIM. You had 4 project meetings during the week and set up the MDM environment to accept another 2000 clients. You’re almost halfway through the day and you can just taste the buffalo wings that are waiting with ice cold beer at the local dive for your normal TGIF celebration.

Your door flings open and the CTO walks into your office with the biggest smile on his face. “You’ll never guess what came in with the packages this morning?” You want to guess this week’s paychecks but you know better from the gleam in his eye and the shiny thing in his hand. “I got the new New iPad, it’s faster and has a better screen, LTE, even the Maps work this time.” Inside you groan, because you know what’s going to come next…”So, I need you to enable this for me so I can get some work done over the weekend.” You ask, although you already know the answer, “Did you get one for my department so we can make sure everything works okay?” of course, the answer is no but you don’t have much of a choice now, his device has to be enabled.

This scene has been playing over and over every year at most businesses ever since the iPhone first came out in 2007. Sometimes it’s the CTO other times it’s the CEO but some form of CXO or another is always buying new technology and trying to make it work. This is where true BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) began; enabling your executives to work on the new devices they had just bought. The problem was that it spread faster than rumor on twitter (thank you Martijn Linssen). Once people saw their executives using the latest and greatest phone or tablet, they wanted to use their own. Now you had to come up with a solution for all these folks.

In the beginning it was easy, you enabled mail on the device through ActiveSync and you were done. That lasted until the App Store appeared and now you had to deal with actually managing the devices. It didn’t help that security realized that the new devices were around and they weren’t locked down blackberries. All of the sudden you actually had to start thinking about what you were doing. You started to get some help when MDM (Mobile Device Management) products started to appear and let you get at least some control over the devices that were appearing, but you were almost always coming from behind.

Now it’s 2012 and devices are only coming out faster. You have a new OS from Apple once a year, new devices from them at least twice a year, then you have Android which may have 57 different models and all at a different OS level. Let’s not forget that you also have Windows Phone OS out there and RIM hasn’t stopped trying to be relevant. Security has taken a much tougher line on what is allowable and legal has stepped in as you have privacy and data laws to consider now, and all this time you’re just trying to make sure you can get your job done and get everyone working.

BYOD has, in many ways become much more difficult than it was in the summer of 2007. You have many more things to think about and everyone is using the buzzword to try and get their foot in the door and sell you a product. You may even be looking at whether you should go BYOD, you may be looking at a corporate device model. The important thing in all this is to figure out what you are trying to accomplish and get the stakeholders together early. You need to involve and partner with everyone. The secret sauce for BYOD is an AUP (Acceptable Use policy), but you still need the same policy if they are corporate owned devices. The goal at the end of the day is to craft a program that enables people to get their work done the most efficient and productive way possible. At the same time, you are enabling your people to get there work done where it needs to be done and yet still be able to carve out the personal time that they need for themselves and their families. The CTO first walked into your office with a shiny toy, not realizing that they were opening up a new way for their employees to be productive and add value to the business. They just wanted to use the cool new thing…

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