IBM CIO Embraces BYOD Movement

The company supports the personal devices of 80,000 employees today, and aims to expand coverage to all 440,000 workers.

IBM CIO Jeanette Horan oversees a range of big IT projects, but one of the most pressing initiatives is the ongoing rollout of a BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, program.

The company's long-term goal is to provide the technology and support necessary to enable all 440,000 of its worldwide employees to use personal devices to do their jobs, Horan said in an interview at IBM's offices in Cambridge, Mass.

The IBM workforce has long been "hugely mobile," with employees working from client sites, home offices or other locations outside corporate buildings, she said. The mobile workforce had historically used company-owned Research In Motion BlackBerry devices managed under a long-running corporate mobile phone program.

Over the past year or so, though, Apple iPhones and other mobile devices began cropping up, and IBM decided to quickly get in front of the issue, Horan said.

"If we didn't support them," she explains, "we figured [the workers] would figure out how to support [the devices] themselves." And that would be a no-no, because it could potentially put a wealth of sensitive corporate data at risk.

The BYOD program "really is about supporting employees in the way they want to work," Horan said. "They will find the most appropriate tool to get their job done. I want to make sure I can enable them to do that, but in a way that safeguards the integrity of our business."

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