Emerging BYOT policies: A cap and wipe system

Complete coverage: Computerworld P100

The evidence from Computerworld's Premier 100 IT Leaders conference is that CIOs are starting to grapple with the policy implications of BYOT (bring your own technology) in the workplace, such as employee-owned iPhones and iPads.

The conference had a timely panel on BYOT that included the IT leaders at Carfax Inc., Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc., Whirlpool Corp. and USAA.

Each company is in a different phase of dealing with employee-owned devices (some just getting started in pilot programs, some well down the path), and there were nuances galore in how the IT leaders approach this phenomenon. Nevertheless, from this panel discussion it wasn't hard to discern where BYOT is headed in the next year or two. Oversimplified, it looks like this:

  • IT departments will try to say "yes" to employee-owned devices, with some caveats. They know that IT's days of being "The Department of No" are over. (Though Wells Fargo didn't get the memo.)
  • Employees will have to sign corporate policy documents regarding employee-owned devices that are connected to the corporate network. A common policy will be that if the device is lost or stolen, the entire device will be remotely "wiped" clean of all data (probably including all personal data) to avoid disclosures of confidential data.
  • IT departments will need to grab the device for a short time to load company software on it (including the aforementioned "remote wipe" security software).
  • Companies may initially enable the device to have a virtual version of the employee's office desktop system, but eventually will move to model in which native mobile apps are loaded onto the device -- perhaps from an enterprise app store. Software vendors (like SAP) will increasingly offer mobile apps for their enterprise software.
  • Companies will place a cap -- say, $70 per month -- on how much they'll pay for the voice & data service plans (combined). Above the cap, the employee will have to pick up the difference. Otherwise, there's a danger of skyrocketing costs.

Now you can see why I dubbed this a "cap and wipe" system. Service costs will be capped. Lost devices will be wiped.

One more thing: The panel discussed the full range of employee-owned devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. That's a lot of devices for a company to support and for an employee to juggle. So panelists were asked: Which one of those devices will eventually go away?

The consensus answer: Laptops (more specifically, low-end laptops used mostly for e-mail and other light duties).

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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