Chief Information Officers should embrace, not fear, BYOD in the workplace, an industry analyst says.
“The primary reason they’re bringing this stuff into the organization is because they think they can do a better job with those tools,” said Bob Hafner, managing vice-president of Gartner's mobile and client computing group, at Gartner's CIO Summit in Toronto on Thursday. "They’re actually trying to help the company. They don’t think about it from an IT perspective, they think about it from their job perspective.”
But faced with this inevitable flood of personal devices into the workplace, organizations need to learn why their employees are bringing in certain devices and how to manage them. This is an area of particular concern to CIOs, according to Gartner’s research, Hafner said.
In an annual poll of CIOs from 2011, Hafner added, they were asked what technologies they felt they should worry about most. Mobile technologies took second place, after business intelligence and analytics, and before cloud computing. “This is where the CIOs see opportunity,” Hafner said.
He outlined some of the changes Gartner sees in the next year or so, including prices for mobile devices tumbling down and performance shooting up. By 2014, Gartner estimates, the price for a smart phone will have dropped to $75, while a mid-range tablet will cost a mere $300.
Meanwhile, it expects smartphones to be built with CPUs that have between two and eight cores, a 10-1 performance boost over what the average smartphone is capable of now. Touch-screens and voice capabilities will also become more prevalent, as will more types of sensors and NFC (near field communication) capabilities.
The challenge for CIOs will be in managing a huge variety of different devices, Hafner said, some of them more secure and modern than others. With nearly 250 new devices coming out a year, plus multiple mobile operating systems, enterprises will have to hit a “moving target,” and should break down the devices into three categories of service, he said:
1) Platform services, where employee devices are fully supported;
2) Application services, allowing connections but not supporting the devices themselves; and
3) Concierge services, supporting devices that are difficult and expensive to manage, but charging the cost to executives who demand it.
Another trend Gartner sees is the number of HTML5 apps doubling in two years, Hafner said. While native apps are still preferred in the enterprise, HTML5 will become more attractive once the standards are worked out, he said.
Hafner stressed that stopping BYOD in its tracks is no longer possible. Outside of agencies that work with sensitive information and physically search their employees before they enter the workplace, most organizations will have to live with it, he said.
“One thing that I think most of us have accepted is that consumerization will win,” Hafner said.