End of Year Thoughts on BYOD: Fad or Here to Stay?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • BYOD remains ‘the big issue’ according to suppliers of enterprise mobility technology and services, with consulting and professional services, MDM/MAM platforms, containerization, and dual persona solutions promoted as ways to ‘solve’ the problem or deal more effectively with an issue that has both pluses and minuses for enterprises.
  • Now that 2012 is nearly over, can we say conclusively that BYOD is here to stay?  Might it still go away and be seen as a fad that came and went, ultimately more trouble than it was worth for both the employee and their employer?

There is literally not a single presentation from a service or technology provider for enterprise mobility that does not begin with the premise that BYOD has changed ‘everything.’  Not only are devices coming into the workplace, but the concept of an ‘enterprise’ smartphone does not even make sense anymore in many companies, because the employee needs to love the look and feel of their mobile device and will select it based on what used to be considered consumer criteria: the numbers and variety of apps it can access or provide, the quality of the browser, the camera, the color, and screen size.  Tablets are also mainstream in the workplace, but vendor surveys show they are somewhat less likely to be purchased by the employee than a smartphone.  Moreover, the various payment schemes for BYOD devices have matured (i.e., employee-funded, partial reimbursement based on either a set stipend or a predefined percent of the cost, or full reimbursement), with partial reimbursement the most common choice.

So, can the suppliers simply be wrong about this phenomenon?  There have been rumblings over the last two years about a backlash where some enterprises have decided BYOD was more trouble than it is worth, or that IT and security costs are likely to be higher with BYOD, given higher support requirements and MDM software or service costs.  However, enterprises have also become more sophisticated about BYOD options; they may make it optional, restrict it to a number of vetted devices, or ensure that only certain employees with particular kinds of jobs can bring their own device.

We understand that BYOD is neither a panacea nor a curse: neither simply bringing down equipment costs for businesses, nor bringing about total chaos and inevitably leading to security breaches.  The truth is somewhere in between, but we do not see it as a fad.  In fact, it seems evident that it is going to grow, especially as the current generation of college students graduate and enter the work force; they will demand mobile technology that mirrors their personal usage.  There will always be companies that try to stop the trend, but we do not see a reversal.  A balanced approach where select employees are allowed to bring in their own devices, coupled with straightforward solutions such as MDM, containerization, and virtualization (and a few new ones such as dual persona, which separates business and personal data and will eventually offer two different cellular numbers on a single device) make BYOD a plausible solution for many companies.

About Kitty Weldon
As Principal Analyst for Enterprise Mobility at Current Analysis, Kathryn is responsible for analyzing events, companies, products and technologies within the wireless and converged wireline/wireless enterprise services and solutions space.

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