Why BYOD Spells DOOM For CIOs

by drjim on May 15, 2013

BYOD just might be a trap that has been set to snare a CIO

BYOD just might be a trap that has been set to snare a CIO
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Have you heard about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) craze that is sweeping companies worldwide? Employees have invested so much money along with time and effort into customizing their smartphones, tablets, etc. that they want to bring them to work and use them to do work. This is opening the door to a whole new world of problems for the person who has the CIO job…

What’s So Wrong With BYOD?

If we spend just a moment and think back to our High School history lessons, we’ll remember that the city of Troy fell because the bad guys brought a wooden horse that was (unknown to them) filled with good guys into their city. BYOD is sorta like that horse: your IT employees might be bringing viruses and worse into your company’s IT department contained within their personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Studies show that roughly 35% of mid to large size firms are allowing their employees to use their own devices while at work. This number jumps up to 50% when you consider smaller firms with less than 500 employees in total.

The motivation for allowing BYOD is very strong. The company stands to save a lot of money by not having to provide each employee with their own laptop and / or smartphone. As an added benefit, there is no learning curve when it comes to using the devices that the employees provide themselves – they already know how to use them and so the downtime associated with coming up to speed on a new device has been eliminated.

What’s A CIO To Do?

Darn that coin – there’s always two sides to everything! Since it looks like there are some compelling reasons why the company may want to take advantage of the benefits that BYOD will provide them with, what’s a CIO to do?

The first step is to make sure that everyone has implemented at least the very basic of security measures on their personal devices. When it comes to cell phones, this means turning on password locks.

The next level of security that you’ll need to implement will be to install applications that will allow you to remotely wipe a phone or a laptop if it gets stolen. This will remove both company information and personal information so you’re going to have to be very clear with your employees: if they want to retain their personal files and photos, then they are going to have to get religion when it comes to backing up their devices that they are using at work.

As a CIO you are also going to have to wrestle with the trickiest of problems. What are you going to do about the situation where an employee who has sensitive company information on their personal devices decides to leave the firm and go work for one of your competitors? All of a sudden that cloud thing is starting to look a lot more attractive…

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Since you are in the CIO position, you need to realize that there is no way to prevent the members of your IT department from bringing their personal electronics to work with them. However, it’s what they are going to do with these shiny toys that a CIO needs to step in and lay down some ground rules. The importance of information technology is just too great to the company to allow bad things to happen because of BYOD.

The possibility of employees personal devices introducing a virus into the workplace is a real problem. Also, when an employee leaves the firm, the CIO needs to make sure that they aren’t taking sensitive company information with them.

All of these issues can be dealt with. The cost savings to the company of having employees provide their own IT systems is very large. However, all such benefits do come with strings attached. CIOs need to be very careful that BYOD does not turn into more of a problem than it’s worth…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there should be any limits put on what types of personal devices can be used for work?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Who is responsible for making sure that your IT department has enough IT workers do everything that is expected of it? Lots of CIOs would like to think that given the importance of information technology, this task is something that the Human Resources (HR) department needs to take care of. However, the truth is that at the end of the day the CIO plays a big role in making sure that you don’t have too many open positions at any given point in time…

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