BYOD: Not just a purchasing policy, says Gartner

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While most companies today feel the imperative to “do mobile”, many don’t know where to begin, according to new research from IT market research company, Gartner.

Setting usage policies for mobile devices or putting in place strategic sourcing decision that mandate a particular platform won’t take organisations very far, and IT decision-makers need to put applications first, says Gartner analyst Darryl Carlton.

“BYOD should be a design principle that provides you with a vendor-neutral applications portfolio and a flexible, future-proof architecture,” he warns. “If the applications exhibit technical constraints that limit choice and limit deployment, then purchasing policy is irrelevant.”

After all, he continues, most organisations have workforces made up of full-time staff, external contractors, independent consultants and part-time and flexible workers. That makes it impossible for the IT organisation to have complete control over the tools used to access corporate systems and data. Or, as he puts it: “We are no longer developing applications for deployment to an exclusive user base over which we can exert standards and control.”

For that reason, he says, IT teams need a new approach, one that “extends computing processes outside the enterprise and into the cultures of the consumer, mobile worker and business partner.”

In other words, BYOD needs to be more flexible, more inclusive, simpler and less costly for users - and the only way to address this, according to Carlton, is to embed these principles within a company’s application strategy. Do that, he implies, and the rest will follow.

“BYOD is an indication that internal IT is not providing adequate support for a segment of the user population and that they are seeking alternatives elsewhere,” Carlton says. “It’s important to recognise that BYOD, bring your own application (BYOA) and cloud adoption are leading indicators of long-term structural change occurring in the industry, not the demands of a few errant staff demanding their favourite brand of technology.”

CIO shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that this is a temporary challenge, easily solved with a tactical response. In a hyperbolic leap, Carlton claims that to take such an attitude would be “a tragic mistake.”

Still, his point stands that this is a permanent, irreversible shift in the way employees, suppliers and customers interact with company data. Attempting to reassert control won’t solve the problem and open standards are the only way forwards.

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