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I had the opportunity to sit in on an IT roundtable discussion recently, where candid conversations were had by IT professionals from various state transportation agencies. As they outlined some of their greatest challenges, communication came up as a theme over and over again. But the new twist to the communication challenge was the “bring your own device,” or BYOD, conundrum. I call it a conundrum because it was stumping each IT professional, with no clear answer in sight.
In the building sector, BYOD is also a rapidly growing challenge as workers become more mobile and the technology lines between commercial and consumer markets become more blurred. Aiding the acceptance of personal mobile devices and tablets for work is the lack of funding available to provide a single mobile platform solution to all employees. With budget cuts deeply affecting IT spend, flexibility to allow each employee to choose his or her own device has become the reluctant outcome.
At the roundtable, as each IT leader talked candidly about the correlation between their dwindling budgets and their acceptance of personal devices as a mobility solution for their field workers, the hot topic quickly became security. How do you secure mobile devices used in the field by workers, over various networks, with various carriers? Does security happen at the device level, the network level, or the document management level? These are all good questions, and while a few single-path solutions were offered, nothing had the scalable security options most organizations need.
At the end of the discussion, the final word was: we just don’t have enough information today to make a call (pardon the pun). Until more use cases are available which clearly define either a path to success or a path to failure, we have to allow a certain level of flexibility to our mobile workers. Secure whatever information you can secure and hope for the best.
So my question to you is: How are you grappling with the BYOD conundrum? Have you found an affordable, secure solution that meets the demands of your field workers? Do you control communication and information at the device level or at the document level? If you’ve experienced a success or failure with BYOD, we’d love to hear about it.