The approaching BYOD wave

This holiday shopping season is being powered in part by demand for electronics, including boatloads of new tablets and smartphones, most of which will wash into enterprises in early January in a veritable bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tsunami.

Besides the latest and greatest smartphones, such as the sleek Samsung Galaxy S III, the Apple iPhone 5 and devices powered by Windows Phone 8, a raft of sexy new tablets will appear in the office, everything from the Apple iPad Mini to Google's Nexus 10, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Microsoft's Surface and the Kindle Fire from Amazon.

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More than 75% of gift-giving adults plan to purchase consumer electronic products as gifts this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and during Christmas alone some 32 million tablets will be sold in the U.S., up more than 110% from last year.

Chances are your organization isn't ready for the onslaught. In a Network World survey last summer only 16% of the participants said they have BYOD policies in place, which is a basic building block for BYOD given the need to spell out rules regarding use of personal devices to access corporate resources, security expectations and requirements, personal rights, etc.

If only 16% have taken this rudimentary step, we can assume companies: 1) are hoping against hope employees will heed the corporate ban against using personal devices for anything work related, 2) have faith that the security controls they have in place can prevent said use, 3) don't perceive it as much of a threat, 4) don't have a grasp of the magnitude of the problem or the risk, or 5) a mix of 1-4.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that, other than highly secure organizations that are locked down, most organizations fall into the fifth camp. They realize BYOD is happening whether sanctioned or not, they have some controls in place that provide a bit of cover, but they either think the benefits outweigh the risks or simply aren't sure how much exposure they have.

Our guess is that getting a better handle on BYOD will top many IT New Year's resolution lists (see "Seven BYOD policy essentials"). After all, the IT implications are big and multifaceted, touching on everything from wireless network performance to questions about compliance, support, productivity, IT costs and even worker satisfaction.

The latter is important because, as hard as it may be to get BYOD right, it offers IT the chance to ride the wave rather than try to create it. In other words, BYOD creates a great opportunity to keep employees engaged, which, in turn, should help other IT initiatives, including collaborative/social endeavors.

No use trying to hold back this tsunami.

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.

This story, "The approaching BYOD wave" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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