BYOD shouldn't be left to IT alone

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Many IT leaders and departments start off resistant to the idea of employees to using their personal smartphones and other devices to access resources and documents on the corporate network. Once a tipping point in favor of BYOD has been reached in an organization, however, the process of facilitating and supporting access from those devices is usually left to the IT staff.

Rarely is there a discussion about whether or not the IT professionals that actively hostile to the very idea of BYOD are, in fact, the best people to plan, implement, and manage BYOD programs. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to have the IT department take charge of BYOD. Its members are the people charged with virtually every piece of technology - hardware, software, or service - that is used within a company. Hostile to the idea of employee devices on the network, IT is often the only group qualified and capable enough to implement the key parts, particularly the technical parts, of a BYOD strategy.

That doesn't immediately mean that IT leaders and staffers are the best people to take ownership of BYOD -- at least not alone. Other business leaders must also be involved, and sometimes drive policy.

BYOD is actually different from traditional IT operations. For example, one concept that has helped BYOD models succeed in some major companies is to create so-called mobile shops - places designed after the genius bar in Apple's retail stores where staff can have questions answered, be shown how to perform specific tasks, learn about new devices, find out about work-related apps, and get technical support if needed. That's a far cry from the traditional corporate help desk experience. It's probably not the type of support most IT departments would offer without prompting from executives or other groups.

Another example is the direct user feedback mechanisms that mobile app management vendor Apperian has built into its EASE platform. Enterprise app stores setup using Apperian's EASE system are more than just a collection of apps that IT has selected and/or created (though there's plenty of value in that alone). EASE lets users rate apps in a company's enterprise app store and encourages users to give full and honest feedback. That can mean suggesting public apps be added to the store as well as complaints and feature requests for enterprise apps developed internally. Again, that's very different from how software requests or internal application deployment usually works.

Apperian's focus on involving users in the app development and management processes gets to the heart of why companies should consider including non-IT executives, managers, and workers in the BYOD process. A major tenet of BYOD, and the larger consumerization movement, is that empowering users to select their own tools (devices, apps, services) allows them to be more productive and effective in the tasks associated with their jobs. Experienced professionals often know their jobs better than some of their coworkers and even their supervisors. And, with  few exceptions, they know their jobs an order of magnitude better than the IT staff of their company.

Every person can't be directly involved in planning and setting BYOD policies, selecting mobile management and security tools, or other BYOD decisions. But employees should have a voice, and that voice should not be ignored.That can mean a single point person with IT background and experience in a company's industry who acts as point person for the IT department around mobile technology and BYOD. It can also mean a committee of senior IT staff members and representatives from various departments.

Ultimately, the reality is that BYOD extends well beyond the confines of the IT department, and to be successful, that reality needs to be accepted and supported.  

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