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“Hold on, Daddy – I want to take a video of that!” my daughter shrieks as she grabs my mobile phone… next thing I know, it’s uploaded to Facebook, my wife has been updated on her Twitter account, and my son has already texted a picture taken on his phone, complete with location details, all in a matter of seconds.  But wait… we don’t even have a “regular” camera with us while we are on our vacation!  That’s great – one less piece of gadgetry to carry.  Meanwhile, I steal a moment or two to return an important e-mail to my colleagues, accept a meeting for next week, make sure the client call-in queue is within acceptable levels, approve the payroll and confirm a new client contract… now back to the rides!

Technology has changed our world.  For as long as I can remember, employers have provided pagers, cell phones, PDAs – and in the last several years, smartphones – to their staff.  But, things have gotten so advanced, that everyone you see is carrying around their own device – is it a personal one, or a work-provided device?  It is so integrated into everything that we do, that most people just carry them in their hand and don’t even bother putting them away!  I’m not complaining – I’m one of them!

But hold on… my device was provided by my office.  Now they want to change it on me! I liked my BlackBerry, now I have to get an iPhone?!?!  What about all of the apps I bought? What about all of my personal files and my photos & videos?  Heck – I’ll give it back to them and buy my own so I can have my own apps.  No problem – I can get my mail and corporate apps on my own device…

This is a scenario that is playing out in almost every government and corporate organization in North America – not to mention around the world.  Technology changes how we do things – almost on a daily basis.  Now, the lines between work and personal life are incredibly gray. The considerations surrounding the use of personal technology can be a real benefit to organizations – reduced costs, enhanced employee accessibility and improved care for the device.  Fabulous! But, there are issues with this approach as well. What happens when the employee loses the device when performing a work-related function? Who covers the cost of the plan overages?  When the phone is lost, does it get wiped out to protect the corporate information?  Say good bye to those photos and apps!  Now, how about the employee who has a device that does not support the corporate applications & mail, or does not have the coverage necessary?  Shall we allow them on the corporate WiFi?  Oh – and all those family members having access to a device with corporate data – that can’t be good… (picture a 4 year-old browsing the corporate SharePoint site… a few edits here, a deleted file there… back to you, Daddy!!)

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the huge phenomena that we now call “BYOD”, or “Bring Your Own Device”.  Some places swear by it – others run screaming from it!  The ramifications of doing something – or nothing – are huge! Most organizations cannot afford to ignore BYOD – it is like the ocean tide roaring up the Bay of Fundy…  How does an organization deal with this?  We have tackled it head-on in our office.  It seems that the Technology Sector has already realized that this is a real problem, given the paradigm shift that is happening.  It seems that there is now a discipline in the market that is known as “BYOD Readiness”.  Initiated by a BYOD Readiness Assessment, an organization can identify the logistical, legal, regulatory, technological and financial aspects of implementing – or not – a BYOD strategy.  What tools are needed? How does technical support deal with the myriad of devices that will be involved? What about the policy surrounding usage fees, privacy and data protection?  What methods are used to protect corporate data integrity and confidentiality?  All of these are topics should be tackled and action plans put in place and executed.  Knowledge is power.  Lack of knowledge or the ignorance of reality is devastating in business and government.  The world is changing around us – we can either embrace it or try to fight it.  Personally, I like to understand the game that we are playing and then win it using all of the tools at my disposal. But hold on – this is so important, I need to post it in my iBook.  I’ll tweet it to my executive – who will undoubtedly repost somewhere else…

Randy Peckham is the President of IDS Systems – an Ontario-based technology firm specializing in Enterprise technology consulting.  Most of the challenges of BYOD  initiatives include Information Technology, Information Management, Information Security, Human Resources, Corporate or Organizational Management and Policy, to name a few.  IDS Systems addresses all of these disciplines with a staff that has all of these areas of expertise.  Their approach to BYOD initiatives is a methodical one that addresses the needs of the business while empowering the employee and understanding the concerns of the employee while respecting their privacy.  Your organization’s BYOD readiness may not be that far away, but should be addressed and enabled in a manner that does not impose unnecessary restrictions on the business or the employee.  Contact IDS Systems to see how well prepared you are for the arrival of the BYOD generation.