"Bring your own service" is the next big thing not to panic about

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CIOs often complain that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement is undermining their ability to keep their infrastructure and data secure. Every employee who comes to work with his or her smartphone or tablet and pulls up sales reports, help tickets, and other corporate data creates a small hole in the armor companies have spent billions to build. Over time, the argument goes, the holes become a dangerous sieve.

But BYOD is a force of nature, so you better not get in its way. And it's just raising the curtain on another, even bigger trend that follows right behind it. Let's call it BYOS, short for "bring your own services."

You see, more than half the companies polled by market researcher IDC already let employees use their own devices, and they support them. It's an inflection point in the ongoing consumerization of IT. It's about what works well at home or on the road, it's about what satisfies our innate needs to stay in touch and keep working on crucial data. It's fundamentally about what people know, like and want.

The only way forward for companies is to embrace this movement. They should support multiple devices on multiple platforms and be creative when it comes to making access to their important data streams secure. It's a question of staying competitive in the market and attractive for new talent while not taking your eyes off compliance and liability issues.

Hardware liberation gives companies an even more amazing new tool: having employees or departments bring their own services. The consumer experience is leading the way in this instance, too. Elegant and intuitive user interfaces like we know from our personal Web services and smart devices. App-ification and connectors to many different services and data streams in the cloud or on-site let us create mash-ups to get work done here and now.

Yes, you can put out a request, evaluate different options and make a companywide purchase. But that's so 20th century: slow, inefficient, and costly. Bringing your own service opens a group (say within a larger company) up to agile innovation like never before.

This is not to belittle legitimate security concerns. Make data access, storage and transfer secure and compliant with the organization's rules and business processes, but other than that, let a thousand flowers of software as a service bloom.

If someone's driven by a burning business question, they will go out and find a service or a tool that lets them explore the answers. You know the drill from your own behavior as a Web 3.0 consumer. You strive to be quick, cheap, and successful. Why shouldn't you have some visibility into this constant quest?

That's exactly how the smart people in your team will go out and hack the hard questions. What are the hidden profit centers? Where are our online dollars best spent? Who are the nodes in our extended network of partners and suppliers that contribute to our bottom line? Where are the other smart guys you can connect with? Where have we overlooked an opportunity to connect the dots between social media metrics and POS data?

New and powerful platforms such as Google Cloud Compute or Salesforce.com often form the backbone to make this BYOS world possible. The whole company might tap into them, as will the curious ones who run an advanced business intelligence query on their personal tablet. It's too good an opportunity to pass up on if you are interested in getting better answers faster. If you lock down your employees and force them to use preordained devices and services, you literally leave money on the table, every second and every click.

Yes, it's a scary revolution. It's driven by the consumerization of IT, the urge to harness big data, and the proliferation of public and private clouds. But you can have your data and let your employees eat it, too. Let them dissect and digest big data and in the process show you how everyone can mine their own business.

BYOS is a trend we won't be able to stop, just like we couldn't stop BYOD. We might as well get out in front of it and be successful before the rest of the corporate world stops being frightened.

Racel Delacour is the cofounder of BIME, which powers the first pure cloud BI service for the age of Big Data. BIME delivers simple-to-use yet powerful data analysis, visualization and dashboarding as a fast, easy. and low-cost service to customers from the Americas to China.

This story, ""Bring your own service" is the next big thing not to panic about" was originally published by Network World.

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