With CFOs on the prowl for ways to cut back, "BYO PC" may become standard practice for new enterprise hires, even current employees. IT departments that refuse to acknowledge and deal with this new trend do so at their own peril.
Larry Guevel, vice president of strategic business planning for outsourcing and infrastructure services at Unisys, told me that a number of Unisys clients are now encouraging employees to use their own equipment as long as the equipment fits company standards and security requirements.
[ For more IT BYO heresies, see "Let users manage their own PCs," "Invite those unsanctioned applications in," Why businesses are embracing Macs, and "Guerrilla IT: How to stop worrying and learn to love your superusers" ]
"Companies are saying, 'Why should we buy another PC as long as we can figure out how to fit an employees personal device into the infrastructure and IT architecture,'" Guevel says.
In fact, Unisys itself is now deploying what it calls Stealth Solutions for Networks, which secures personal devices once they enter the Unisys corporate network. It is part of a concept he calls "micro-perimiterization," which builds a secure fence around these personal assets.
Technologies such as virtualization are also enabling companies to offer employees "digital allowances" to purchase their own equipment. The allowance sets a reimbursable limit; anything above that amount is paid out of pocket by the employee.
"It eliminates some procurement costs," Guevel says.
Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology leader at Deloitte, told me his company is facing similar issues. Deloitte has what it calls the standard offering. If you are a new hire, when you show up at the IT window on Day One, you get a notebook and are told which PDA IT supports.
"Now we hear new hires saying, 'If you won't give me an iPhone, at least tell me how to connect it to the network.' Or they say, 'Where's my Mac?'" he reports.
The issue is becoming so huge at Deloitte that the company "will morph to the appropriate subsidy to address it," Openshaw says.
BYO PC feasibility
Of course, the single biggest issue around any such policy involving personal devices, cell phones, notebooks, netbooks, or desktops is security.
I spoke to John Pescatore, senior security analyst at Gartner, about this. Pescatore laid out two broad categories of concern and three strategies for companies considering a BYO PC policy.