WE'RE HEADING INTO an era of "bring your own device" (BYOD) in the corporate world, indeed we're already there, and it's going to become more common as time goes on.
The phrase "bring your own device" refers to the move away from employer-provided edge devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets to the accommodation of diverse populations of devices owned by employees themselves. Organisations already work with suppliers, customers or clients and the general public on this basis, using electronic data interchange (EDI), the internet and phone voice response systems to communicate and do business, but now they're extending BYOD practices to interface with their internal operations.
This has happened for many workers in a number of industries, such as the journalism and consulting trades. I'm a freelance journalist, and I haven't had an employer-provided computer or mobile phone for over 10 years, and many journalists and IT consultants as well as other professionals and small business owners can say the same thing. For many people, BYOD in the context of an open market for services is the reality that we've been living with for quite a while.
This will only be expanded as more occupations are folded into a transactional marketplace and more companies adopt BYOD policies and processes, aided - and complicated - by the simultaneous buildout of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The migration to BYOD will impact different organisations in various ways and to different extents, depending on their existing information systems that will have to be modified to adapt to the change. For some highly centralised, rigidly standardised IT departments, BYOD is proving a wrenching change, and some will put it off as long as possible or take tentative, incremental approaches to adopting BYOD for this reason, while others that have less rigid and customised IT systems have already transitioned to BYOD as an almost painless process.
Organisations will have to assess the migration costs versus the benefits of moving to BYOD, but for many companies the results have already proved worth the effort.
As IT departments redevelop internal interfaces to adapt to working with generic devices, they will realise savings in equipment expense, management and maintenance costs, as well as the additional benefits of refactoring internal IT systems to be simpler and take advantage of redesigned, decentralised processes that use more modern system architectures and standardised protocols.
Moving to BYOD will require architectural and process redesign wisdom from IT management and, for some organisations it will be a lot of work, but the eventual results should be well worth the cost of migration.
Those benefits are what the IT industry is looking forward to achieving from the move to BYOD, but there will probably be significant discussions within IT departments - and in board rooms - as the transition gathers momentum and begins to ripple through industry and commerce.
Overall, I believe that the migration to BYOD policies and practices, and the IT systems that support them, will be beneficial and cost-effective for many IT departments and organisations, and even those firms who have shied away from the trend so far will need to support it in some form over the next few years.
As The INQUIRER did earlier this year with regard to the emerging concept of the Internet of Things in an online debate and a roundtable discussion event, we plan to engage with IT industry leaders later this summer to host some debate and discussion on important topics relating to the BYOD migration that now seems almost inevitable. µ