The Growing Appeal of Bring Your Own
How should IT leaders address the “bring your own application” (BYOA) trend? Should they fight it or embrace it? There’s an impulse among many IT and business managers to attempt to regulate, control, or ban personal technology being brought into or downloaded into the workplace, seeing it as a security threat as well as a potential support headache down the road. We’ve seen this scenario play out with bring your own device (BYOD), and BYOA continues the uncertainty.
Concerns about security and support are well founded, but attempting to fight the trend may be akin to attempting to turn back the tides at the ocean. The worst part, however, is that resisting BYOA may squelch opportunities to significantly enhance peoples’ innovation and productivity.
There’s actually nothing new about the BYOA trend. In the 1980s, employees and managers brought in their own PCs, and with it, all kinds of software outside IT’s purview – including Microsoft Word and Excel (actually foreshadowed by WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3, the popular productivity applications of the day). Ultimately, organizations that embraced these applications realized the increased innovation and flexibility they brought to workplaces.
Rather than attempt to resist and reign in BYOA, IT leaders need to recognize that the best results come from supporting whatever business users need to enhance and boost their productivity and decision-making. BYOA defines today’s “Anything as a Service” era. And in many cases, the capabilities they seek that bring about BYOA may just as readily be spun up and supported within a private cloud environment.
A survey of 3,800 workers, conducted by Fortinet, found 69 percent are interested in BYOA. Another survey of 1,200 businesses, conducted by LogMeIn and Edge Strategies, found that nearly 70 percent of businesses report active use of employee-introduced applications. Popular BYOA applications include various social, cloud sync and storage apps, such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Evernote and OneDrive.
Business and IT leaders need to wrap any support for BYOA with guidelines that will help users get the most out of their devices while maintaining a safe and secure computing experience. More often than not, BYOA services intersect with the mobile world as well, since many personal cloud services are accessed via mobile apps.
Embrace and encourage employees’ innovative spirits.
The growing use of BYOA opens up new paths to productivity – employees know best what it takes to do their jobs most effectively. Innovation also often requires work conducted under the budget radar – many of today’s personal productivity applications are available for free – versus time-consuming budget requests for access to internal IT services.
Learn from personal cloud applications.
While there is justified concern about corporate data being sent to third-party applications, enterprises can learn a great deal about security from these apps as well. Often, third-party services are more secure than corporate data centers, and tend to stay current on the latest standards. Employees using BYOA also have access to embedded business rules developed by the third party cloud provider, based on accumulated learning and input from previous customers.
Replicate or bring in functionality to private cloud – where it makes sense.
Often, a private cloud can offer a range of services – configured as personalized virtual desktops – to end users. To offer such a capability, it’s important to work closely with end-users to determine what they find beneficial from third-party clouds.
Adoption of personal clouds in the workplace is only the latest phase of technology-based tools transforming the workplace. For enterprises, BYOA is an opportunity to support employee initiative and productivity.
This article was contributed by Joe McKendrick. McKendrick is an author, independent researcher and speaker exploring innovation, information technology trends and markets.
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