I've discussed the growing issue of BYOD on campus. We need to face up to personal devices entering the campus network; it's naive to assume this will be a passing fad. At the University of Minnesota Morris, we encourage replacing laptops and desktops every 4–5 years, depending on the user. But if you assume a 4 year replacement cycle, it's almost guaranteed that folks will have purchased a new device for themselves at home during that time. For example, Apple releases a new version of the iPad about once a year, and it seems everyone wants to bring their iPad to work.
In years past, IT Directors and CIOs would discourage users bringing in their own devices. It's about managing risk. When users bring in their own laptops and tablets to use at work, the IT department has little to no control over how that device is used. We also don't know what data could be stored there—yet if that user device is ever lost or stolen, the institution is still responsible for the inappropriate loss of any private data.
But IT departments need to embrace BYOD. We need to stop saying "no" to customers, and find ways to say "let me help you."
CIO Magazine recently discussed this issue of "consumerization" or BYOD, saying much the same thing: Embrace consumerization of IT and stop saying no. From the article:
"Today, business users are very savvy. They know what they want and what they need. They expect technology to be easy and intuitive, as simple as what they see on their iPad or iPhone. But what they don't understand is that it isn't easy for IT to make that shift."
"Consumerization of technology is an inevitability. It's an inevitability because of SaaS, because of broadband in the home and because every single technology vendor in the world targets individuals now. People harness technology not because they want to but because they have to."
The statement "People harness technology not because they want to but because they have to" reminds me of a saying from one of our faculty: "Technology should be like a rock. It should be that simple to use." I like to repeat that quote because it serves as a reminder that IT folks like technology, but most of our users do not. Faculty aren't bringing in their laptops from home, or their iPads, or whatever else because they want to. They do it because it helps them to get their work done.
That's why the article makes the important point that as IT departments "just say no" when their users try to bring in these new devices, they also turn off their users. In doing so, the IT department effectively creates an environment where users do their own thing, without involving IT. And if folks are going to bring in their own devices anyway, do you want them to do it with your support or without you knowing about it?