Some people say that the current BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend got its start in 2009 when it was widely reported that newly elected US President Barrack Obama refused to give up his Blackberry in favour of the phone supplied by the secret service. He wound up keeping both phones, but I wonder if this helped to open the floodgates for employee demand that they be allowed to use their beloved iPhones, Androids and other smartphones for work and personal business.
Fast forward to 2013, and BYOD is a prominent part of many enterprise mobile strategies. The pros and cons of BYOD have been widely discussed in both the IT and records management spheres. There are obvious advantages of BYOD for the enterprise, primarily in terms of cost savings, but it creates a number of challenges for IT departments and for IM managers. For IT, there are issues around security, application management, user support, and so on. For the IM manager, having business and personal information and records on a single employee-owned device creates other problems: managing mobile records according to the same policies and procedures as all other records in the organization; ensuring data is discoverable in the case of litigation; ensuring data is recoverable in the case of the device being lost or the employee leaving the organization, and so on.
But when employees, managers and (perhaps most influentially) executives are all driving the demand for something, everyone from the mighty IT department to the lowly IM manager has to jump on the bus and go along for the ride. Most organizations allowing BYOD created policies and procedures that would ameliorate the most serious concerns and drawbacks. Employees were educated on device security and what to do in case their device was lost or stolen. By 2011 (when BYOD really started to get popular), most devices on the market could be remotely locked or wiped, and this became part of the standard BYOD policy in many organizations.
So we had BYOD demand by users, followed by policy changes. The next step in technology adoption is usually software innovation followed by hardware changes. Right on cue, enterprises started developing applications to fit their new policies — applications such as mobile interfaces to enterprise applications like CRM and other databases. And most recently we have started to see device manufacturers develop features to make BYOD easier for enterprises to implement.
In 2011, Blackberry announced its new Balance feature, which is finally available on X10 and the imminent Z10 models. Balance creates (with a little help from the Blackberry Enterprise Server) a partition on the device between personal and business data. With Balance, it isn’t possible to forward corporate e-mails to personal contacts, cut and paste business documents into personal documents, etc. If the employee leaves the organization, corporate data and applications can be wiped without touching any personal data. You can switch easily between personal and business modes, and the experience is more or less like having two separate phones on one device. This month, Samsung announced a competing feature called Knox for its latest Galaxy phones, and other manufacturers will no doubt follow suit as soon as their developers catch up.
Other BYOD innovations are on the horizon as well. For example, many analysts expect to see more dual SIM phones in the near future. Hardware changes like this are usually the longest coming, but with new mobile devices on approximately a 6-9 month cycle, they’re coming very quickly these days! This is a space information managers need to be watching, but in the meantime have a look at the video of Blackberry Balance in action.
(Note: Ergo does not endorse or recommend any of the companies or products mentioned in this article)