Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is increasingly impossible to ignore.
Fairly recent research from Gartner suggests both BYOD and the related Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) are the new ways to consume IT.
By 2015, Gartner predicts that the number of employees using mobile apps in the workplace will double. By 2017, Gartner expects half of employers to require employees to supply their own devices.
Yet the risk is this: both BYOD and BYOA can be complicated and challenging. IT managers need to be on the ball to manage the effects.
How are they dangerous?
To start with, businesses have the common security concerns associated with a technical device: spyware, malware, viruses, and so forth. These are all exacerbated by the fact that BYOD involves foreign devices coming into the office in an uncontrolled way.
Yet common concerns like security are not the only challenges that come with BYOD and BYOA.
Let's look at BYOA. BYOA is becoming a growing issue in terms of complexity and management. Employees are bringing their own computers and tablets.
Suddenly things like applications and virus software become variable. Gartner noted that 70% of employees using their own device have sourced their own apps to do the job.
With BYOA, employees within a business decide about the use of their own apps. They do this without involving the IT department. This makes BYOA the more irksome cousin of BYOD, and increasingly complicated.
These unmonitored apps greatly increase complexity of the traffic mix along the network which puts business-critical solutions at risk. This makes troubleshooting particularly challenging, as it's hard to fix things in an environment where users are bringing a multitude of different technologies.
Then there's BYOD, which also provides an indirect threat: additional devices running numerous applications could crash the networks themselves by putting too much stress on the available bandwidth.
Handling the challenges
Companies must be prepared to handle these challenges before they rush after BYOD and allow BYOA. They need tools to manage applications on behalf of multiple users and protect business apps against recreational ones.
They must understand how employees are using their networks, and prioritise business-critical applications above others. They need application performance guarantee solutions.
BYOD and BYOA can be positive, powerful tools for businesses. Only companies need to figure out how to handle both now, rather than waiting until issues arise.
In a far more de-centralised world, where users increasingly make their own IT decisions, the IT department must transition to understand these changes. They need to ensure they are able to support company productivity.
- Béatrice Piquer-Durand is VP Marketing at Ipanema Technologies.