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In Between the Numbers: Bring Your Own Device Do we know what that means?

January 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm PST

I was at a technology conference in London late last year, and the topic was mobility – and, inevitably, BYOD: bring your own device.

The mobility evangelists (and they dominated the four-person panel) waxed poetic as to all the fabulous things that iPhone- and Android-armed employees could bring to the business. Rich content! Social networking! Collaboration! Meeting each other for lunch!

Then a grouchy American analyst walked to the podium, and growled two words: “Data Security.”

And silence fell like a thick blanket over the room.

BYOD is one of technology’s topics du jour, an issue that will create a few tons of PowerPoint and a fresh revenue line for consulting firms in the next 18-24 months.

Cynicism aside, it’s a very important issue – and not just for ICT shops. And, it’s an issue that will be easily misunderstood.

Yes, BYOD is about data security. Yes, there’s a need for hard and high corporate security walls. Clearly-stated rules. And devout attention to PCI.

But beyond that, let’s pause and reflect.

BYOD is not about the devices. The devices will continue to evolve at Moore’s Law speed, and the stuff the kids are bringing into the office today will be obsolete by the time your new policies reach the governance committee.

Truth be told, BYOD is about the big tech-driven generational change in expectations and behavior. It’s about the new normal of life with the Internet. Life in the Internet.

It’s about Millennials who use technology like I use a knife and fork. It’s about a tsunami wave flooding every phase of business life – from the headquarters office to the distribution center to the store.

And this tsunami will not just touch devices. It will drive change in the cloud content that employees will use. It will drive change in their willingness to sit in cubes (versus do the work at home or at Starbucks or wherever there’s a fast wireless pipe). It will drive change in their expectations for interaction and participation, for education and training.

It will even touch the glowing third rail of data security. (As this is the generation of Wiki-Leaks and unbridled transparency on Facebook.)

Agree? Disagree?

 Let me know what you think.

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