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What's next in BYO?

Much more than just BYOD.


Bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, isn’t such a radical idea anymore. It’s becoming the norm, as employees use their personal mobile devices for work and leisure. But bring-your-own doesn’t stop there — it’s becoming a BYO world, where employees bring their own cloud apps and collaboration tools to work.

For IT pros, that may sound like a nightmare. But it’s a reality, and it’s better to prepare for it — rather than clamp down — as you look ahead to your 2017 IT roadmap. And BYO has its benefits too.

BYOT: Bring-Your-Own-Technology

Bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) is driven by the consumerization of IT, where employees use their own devices — and, increasingly, the apps that run on them — rather than technology chosen by their employer.

Typically, employees are using their own devices, apps and tools because they’re faster, less restrictive and less cumbersome. How many times have you used a personal cloud account rather than entering VPN credentials with a token-issued password over a mobile phone while standing in line to board a plane? There’s a reason why BYOT has taken off.

BYOC: Bring-Your-Own-Cloud

The next iteration of BYO is bring-your-own-cloud and bring-your-own-cloud apps, where employees are allowed to use public or private cloud services in the workplace.

“In theory, an organization may encourage freely available cloud services as an alternative to reduce capital and operational costs related to IT services, such as cloud storage, collaboration and basic productivity applications,” says website Techopedia.

“In practice, employees are the ones driving the change as it’s often simply more convenient to use existing personal accounts.”

The downside? IT pros lose control over those services. Clearly, there are security and compliance risks associated with BYO, since corporate data is stored on personal devices and public clouds.

On the flip side, there are benefits to be had, including mobility, increased productivity, improved user experience along with greater employee satisfaction and control, according to an article in Business Cloud News.

To date, the most popular use of BYOC is personal cloud storage, according to Tom Nolle in an article for TechTarget. “This BYOC application is driven largely by what workers see as restrictive policies on data storage on company devices. It is also driven by workers’ desire to use familiar tools and mobile devices (BYOD) to do their jobs,” he writes. “Workers who travel or who are in supervisory/professional job categories that often require working outside normal hours are almost certain to use their own cloud storage.”

What Should IT Pros Do?

So should IT pros clamp down on BYOC? Not necessarily. Sure, it comes with its share of security, privacy and compliance issues. But workers will always find workarounds, so some compromise may be required on the part of IT.

“Bring your own cloud is the classic example of ‘tiger by the tail,’ because companies and workers alike report that companies have had virtually no success in trying to stamp out BYOC practices,” continues Nolle in TechTarget. “It’s smarter to accept that workers will rely on the tools they know best, and to accommodate worker choices and apply governance practices that offer an adequate level of protection.”

He recommends, instead, encouraging workers to use a company-controlled cloud storage service, as well as company-approved apps for collaboration. This requires a BYO policy for employees — but it should be one without overly restrictive controls, so it actually sticks.

This approach could work. A study by IBM of 1,000 employees found that one in three employees frequently use both their corporate and personal accounts to log into and access cloud-based apps — despite the fact a majority (57 per cent) agree it’s a violation of their company’s security IT policies.

Perhaps more interesting is another finding from the study: 60 per cent of those surveyed (and 73 per cent of millennials) said they would be likely to use cloud-based apps through a company-provisioned account (one that’s sanctioned by the IT department).

After all, you don’t want to discourage collaboration and productivity. “Social media and consumer‑driven sharing mechanisms might seem to be a headache for the IT department, but they not only fit well with personal preferences, they also hit a pressing enterprise need — a more collaborative and open approach to working,” writes Rob Bamforth in an article for ComputerWeekly.

Down the road, ‘BYO’ may disappear from our vocabulary because it will simply become the way we work. It poses challenges, but it’s also a reality that is reshaping the workplace. And the right approach can reshape your workplace for the better.

What are your thoughts on the BYO revolution? Tell us in the comments section below.

Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach is a freelance writer and editor based in Toronto. She has covered technology and travel for 15 years, for media outlets such as, The Globe & Mail, Metro News, ITBusiness, PCworld Canada and Computerworld Canada. She also spent three years living abroad and working as an Asian correspondent.

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