Why almost everyone gets it wrong about BYOD

Whoever owns the device, mobile use should encourage enablement, but too many organizations fall into control trap

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You create a culture of responsible and eager people who become more productive and efficient because you've worked directly with them and focused on their needs. It's the FUN principle -- focus on user needs -- while you meet the business requirements.

What about all the issues that everyone is talking about with BYOD? These issues are all based on ownership. When you design your processes, you need to realize you can't rely on the legacy thinking of owning the device anymore. You have to build solutions that can live in a world where the user may own the device. You may not have rights to wipe their devices. You may not even be allowed to look at what they do on the devices if it isn't work-related.

The good news is that plenty of tools allow you to isolate all your business data from employees' personal data. Those tools can let you wipe business data from their devices without touching their photos and private emails. There are ways to back up your data and protect it so that you can handle e-discovery investigations and meet the needs of legal, security, and human resources.

You still need to spell out the differences between BYOD and COPE in your policy, but instead of 20 pages devoted to BYOD and a strategy that drives people away from using their own devices, you must enable them to use those devices to meet their work needs. To be fair, the balance between enablement and management varies across the world; in Europe, for example, privacy laws can dictate that if you put data on users' device, they now own that data. There are ways to work around this, but it becomes more complicated.

In the end, when you realize that what you really have is an ownership issue, you can start to crack the real nuts of mobility. Your goal is to figure out how to enable your users to be more productive in doing their jobs. The only reason most of them started bringing their own devices in the first place was because you didn't provide them. Your users just want to get their work done, so let's stop arguing about ownership and find ways to help them do it.

This article, "Why almost everyone gets it wrong about BYOD," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at InfoWorld.com with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at InfoWorld.com or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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