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BYOD became the 'new normal' in 2013

Tom Kaneshige | Dec. 20, 2013
CIOs have had eventful year when it comes to BYOD. Concerns over hidden costs, employee privacy and corporate data security gave way to convenience. However, mobile device management vendors stepped in to help IT sell the concept of compliance and lawyers and the National Labor Relations Board jumped to the aid of employees smacked with draconian BYOD policies.

BYOD Doomsday Delayed
Not everyone, though, jumped on board. A lot of companies are still struggling with BYOD policy and security, Johnson says. Part of the problem is that there wasn't a high-profile BYOD breach in 2013. CIOs warning of a doomsday that didn't happen. Despite all the hand-wringing, BYOD data risk was a non-starter this year and thus perceived by some as another sneaky attempt by IT to regain control in the name of security.

On the bright side, BYOD policies are in the process of getting a legal makeover and becoming more balanced. In the first half of 2013, companies were pressuring employees to sign draconian BYOD user policies heavily weighted toward a company's right to monitor, access, review and disclose company or other data on BYOD mobile phones and tablets, and gave short shrift to an employee's expectation of privacy.

But the second half of 2013 saw the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a group tasked with the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases, taking aim at BYOD policies that violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. In other words, those policies "chill an employee's ability to communicate with others about wages, hours and working conditions or to engage in otherwise protected activity," according to the NLRB.

The General Counsel's focus on confidentiality policies is causing companies to re-think their BYOD policies "out of fear of prosecution," Heather Egan Sussman, a lawyer at McDermott Will & Emery, told CIO.com in November.

Tablets and Laptops Enter the BYOD Picture
BYOD developments in the latter half of this year weren't confined to maturing policies. A Forrester survey of 35,000 IT decision-makers, business-decision makers, business technology end users and channel partners conducted in the latter part of this year uncovered a number of interesting developments.

For starters, BYOD had always been mostly a smartphone play, but the Forrester survey showed BYOD tablets and laptops gaining traction. Apple iPads still rule BYOD tablets in the enterprise, although Android tablets are quickly closing the gap, perhaps even catching up to Apple next year. Surprisingly, Microsoft Windows 8-based tablets, which were practically non-existent in the enterprise this year, may be in store for a leap in 2014.

"We started to see more PCs and tablets falling under the BYOD policy," Johnson says.

Perhaps even more interesting are the things that didn't happen this year.

Concerns over hidden costs, hard-to-measure worker productivity gains, and employee privacy didn't derail the BYOD movement. The simple convenience of having a single mobile device that blends business and personal lives far outweighs privacy issues for the majority of people. It also doesn't matter what companies think about BYOD's shaky return on investment; employees are in the driver's seat now, and they want BYOD.

Reading work email on the golf course and checking Facebook in the cubicle, says Borg, "has become an expectation, a requirement of the modern era." This year went a long way toward making BYOD the new normal.

 

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