Steer clear of these BYOD boondoggles

Vendors are targeting naive, frightened IT pros with silly notions that will waste your money and time

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Jailbreaking is overrated. Another common fear is over the jailbroken iPhone or rooted Android device. The vast majority of users want to use their devices for fun and work, not hack them. If you're so concerned about this, then get one of the many MDM products available; the top ones all detect jailbroken and rooted devices to block their access to your resources.

Quality of service is variable. Perhaps one of the hardest issues to deal with emotionally involves quality of service. Several vendors pitch products that can monitor where users have issues with weak cellular signals or their battery is about to die. What exactly can IT do about that? Nothing, in most cases -- so what's the use of paying to monitor this?

Unisys' Dunn points out that users will still call the help desk when they have such issues. Even if the support technician can't do anything about the problem, he or she can see what the problem is and let the caller know. Perhaps they'll suggest the user look for a stronger signal elsewhere or recharge the battery ASAP, as well as remind them of the signal and battery indicators on the device. As a white-glove approach to support, that's great -- but understand you're paying not to actually support the mobile user but to make them feel better. I suspect this kind of call will diminish over time as people get experienced with using cellular devices. A cheaper approach might be to educate users about the realities of mobile rather than wait for them to call.

There is one scenario where such knowledge could be actionably useful: Say you're an airline with customer service reps roaming the gates based on where your planes are that day. They use mobile devices to check in passengers or process upgrades, and if they're in a weak-signal area, they may be unable to work or some transactions may get stored while out of range, only to be found out too late as fraudulent.

By analyzing the patterns of the quality of service on the reps' devices by location and time, you may be able to detect areas that are problematic and train the reps not to go there or work with the airport facilities staff to improve the radio signal by adding an access point or repeater. This same scenario could apply to a factory, a warehouse, a distribution center, or a college campus. But it's a small minority of organizations who would have this need. For the rest of you, it's much better to ask, "Can you tell me what your signal strength setting shows at the top or bottom of your screen?"

IT needs to let go -- for its own sake
IT has enough on its plate. It doesn't need to waste time and money solving fake problems or imposing controls or processes that make no sense. It certainly has no business trying to manage the organizations' budget. I get why the vendors and consultants pitch these kids of concerns -- if they fool you or play on your fears, they make more money. But what does IT get out of it? Why do so many in IT have this need to take on everyone's problems (then whine about how overburdened they are)?

Mobile computing -- indeed, the whole consumerization-of-IT phenomenon -- is IT's opportunity to get out of the stupid work, to use the fact of change to think and do smarter. You'll be happier if you do.

This article, "Steer clear of these BYOD boondoggles," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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