I have spent the last two posts talking about rainbow-farting unicorns especially as far as the tools of the trade being employed mean that you are innovating. That being said, Simon Bramfitt made a great comment on my last post…”BYOD may mean ‘bring your own device’, but unless it is followed by “and we will enable you to be productive on it” the whole notion is a waste of time.” Simon is exactly right (yes Simon, you can crow about it). The issue is that this is not the approach that most IT departments take with respect to BYOD.
You see, whenever BYOD comes up, the first thing that springs to the mind of IT is “Oh crap!” followed by a quick call to the local vendor to see how they can go about owning the mobile device they same way they have owned every other corporate device. They are stuck in the legacy way of thinking where they want to lock it down and make sure that all information is safe. The fact that they want to keep all their information safe is a lofty and great goal. It doesn’t mix well with the fact that these are personally owned devices and people should have a right to do what they want with their own information. A personal device is just that, a device with one’s own stuff on it, that they also want to use for work.If work decides they need to own it, then there will be some very unhappy employees.
Let’s say that the IT department figures this out and decides to use tools that will work to keep corporate data safe and separate from personal data. The good news is that everything is protected. The bad news, there still isn’t any innovation going on. This is the problem with the approaches of many businesses. They think they can save money by creating/accepting a BYOD program because so many employees want to use great devices, that they forget about the fact that they need to enable them to make the best use of their devices.
Too many IT departments create BYOD programs without consulting the business and partnering with them. They saddle their employees with the burden of figuring out what apps work well and they don’t encourage them to share those findings. They forget that there are business needs that can be met better by enabling people with mobile devices and that’s what they need to strive for.
If every user needs to figure out the best way to get their word doc onto their device and then they have to find a program to edit it…where is the innovation. Some people will find some great ways to make their job easier, they will search for apps that make it more efficient for them to get their job done and they will learn to ignore crapplications. The problem with each person being an island is just that…one person is productive, not everyone is benefitting. These sorts of things can be combatted through partnering with the business and using things like social media in the enterprise to allow people to share their successes, but that’s a topic for another post.
I have received a lot of comments on twitter and in person from people taking issue with me saying BYOD is solely just an ownership issue. They see allowing people to use their own devices within the company as much more than just an ownership problem that needs to be sorted out. The whole point though is, who cares who owns the device. The goal is to enable the people to be productive. You build it around mobile, not BYOD or COPE (Corporate owned personally enabled). The fact that you are enabling people to get their work done when they need to and where they need to shouldn’t be device specific. It should be built so that they can use the best tool around. It shouldn’t matter whether they bought the device or the company did. It doesn’t change the fact that innovation is about enabling people to do new things, acquire new skills and get stuff done in a better way.
So Simon is correct. When a company does that in conjunction with a mobile program, whether BYOD or not, they are being innovative and learning to harness all the tools available. On the other hand, if as a company you are going to get caught up by who does or doesn’t own the device, as opposed to addressing the challenges that those devices can help fill, you’ve already missed the chance to harness the rainbow farting unicorns and you can tell from the unicorn poop that you are constantly wiping off the soles of your shoes.