How BYOD will change IT

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend and how it will change the IT department of tomorrow was a popular point of discussion during a panel discussion I participated in earlier this year.

The advent of BYOD will not only affect the everyday operations of IT staff, it will have an impact on the mission and basic business functions of the department.

Here are some major ways in which BYOD will affect IT departments in the future:

1. The IT department will evolve into a services and apps broker.
With the increasing popularity of subscription-based cloud apps and enterprise app stores, the IT department’s role will shift toward that of a services and apps broker. IT will take a technology leadership role in managing software and services licensing across employee-owned devices as well as the remaining corporate-owned PCs and mobile devices still remaining in inventory.

As BYOD makes enterprise gains, even more systems will migrate to the cloud to ensure support for users across devices. Applications migrating to the cloud include:

  • Email, calendaring, and productivity apps
  • Project management apps
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Accounting and financial apps
  • Online collaboration and social enterprise apps
  • Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Likewise, the IT department will administer cloud app accounts and manage an enterprise app store or standard app list for the company’s BYOD users.

2. IT will morph from hardware provider to advisor.
The IT department will become less and less of a hardware player as employee-owned laptops, tablets, and smartphones replace corporate-owned systems.

Corporate servers being taken offline as systems migrate to the cloud will further lessen the hardware footprint. Corporate printer numbers will also decline as more collaboration and document reviews take place on tablets or online.

IT professionals will still need to put their device selection skills to work in organizations that follow the COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) model, and as advisors to employees seeking guidance on making BYOD choices appropriate to their roles.

3. IT’s responsibilities for security and communications will expand.
The IT department’s responsibilities and support around communications and security will certainly grow in a BYOD future. IT will manage the mobile device management (MDM) and/or secure authentication solutions that will be in place. Responsibilities for end-point security will also increase as BYOD-enabled personal devices grow to become employees’ primary work platforms.

As a communications provider, corporate WiFi network management responsibilities will increase to accommodate more devices accessing the office network. Working with service providers to ensure that employees have adequate coverage and understand service plans and limitations will be essential. IT and accounting departments will both have a share in managing the allowances given to employees with BYOD devices and in controlling expenses.

4. IT can have a larger role in onboarding and educating employees.
On an employee’s first day, a stop by IT will be part of the office tour where the IT department will provision their devices with necessary apps as well as access to the corporate network and/or cloud applications. Employees will learn about corporate policies, security best-practices, and their personal responsibilities.

While change can be painful for some organizations, the changes that BYOD brings to the future of IT draw upon past expertise. This enables IT to become a strategic player behind the services and device choices that power a BYOD-enabled workforce.

What other changes do you see BYOD bringing to the IT department of the future?

Image by basketman courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.

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