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Is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) the great equalizer?

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“The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) programs is the single most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs invaded the workplace, according to Gartner, Inc.”

That is one seriously bold statement, and one that is difficult to argue against.  The era of company issued cell phones and even laptops may be coming to an end, and that means serious implications on IT costs.  When companies first started embracing cell phones, desktops, and laptops it was easy for employees to embrace corporate policy because the separation of personal and professional utility was easy to comprehend.  The tools the company’s IT department provided were above and beyond the scope of what we could get as individual consumers, and quite frankly, we almost preferred to keep work and home separate.

What happened? Why the sudden movement to BYOD?

In a word…information.  Consumers started gaining greater and greater access to information whether it was email, news, blogs, RSS feeds, you name it.  And the more information we had access to, the more we wanted access to it no matter where we were, or how we were connected.  Information became the lifeblood of personal productivity, and thus, personal growth.  In order for us to be successful, to be productive, we needed to harness the power of information faster and more efficiently than the next guy.

Enter the rise of the Blackberry.  Probably one of the single most corporate issued and supported devices in history.  They didn’t call them “crack-berries” for no reason.  We were on the things constantly. Checking emails from the road, the airport, and yes to the disgust of my wife, at home.  We had anywhere, anytime access to information, and we were able to cram a few more hours of work into the day…we were more productive, or so we thought.

But then, the iPhone came along and completely changed the game.  Aimed at consumers, the iPhone did everything better than the Blackberry, and more.  It had a better screen, more apps, and let’s face it, a more appealing design for many.  Only the coolest people had iPhones, every other corporate stiff had a Blackberry. We were even more productive (so we think) and cooler. The trend continued with the iPad.

Consumers had an epiphany as we flocked to get the latest and greatest iPhone, Android, iPad, Galaxy, etc. Why should we be forced to use old technology like the Blackberry, when we could do so much more on an iPhone, or an iPad.  Why should our preference in personal versus professional devices be a hinderance to our productivity?

Now, information flows even more freely.  We can thank the cloud, social media, and the hundreds of thousands of apps we have to choose from.  No longer was the corporate issued software and email the best way for us to stay ahead. We started creating our own ways of getting ahead, and staying one step ahead of the next guy. Access to information, and greater productivity moved from a corporate driven strategy to a personal strategy.

The scales have tipped, and corporations are right in the middle of figuring out how to embrace personal productivity preferences while controlling costs, keeping data secure, and quite honestly…attracting and retaining the best employees.  This BYOD thing goes way beyond simply an IT issue.

Which begs the question…would you take a job at a company if you couldn’t use your preferred productivity tools?

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