We Hate BYOD Bans, But Most Firms Have Them

We Hate BYOD Bans, But Most Firms Have Them

Bring-your-own device (BYOD) policies continue to cause friction in the workplace, as IT managers enforcing workplace policies clash with workers who own equipment more powerful than anything their bosses will actually supply. One recent survey suggests that bans are dominant, but more than half of all employees are upset by the blocks.

Picture by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A survey conducted by VMWare across 10 Asia-Pacific countries, including 200 workers from Australia, found that just over half felt they could work more efficiently when able to work on a device of their choice in a web-based environment. However, 79 per cent of the firms involved did not offer any support for employees who used their own equipment, despite 55 per cent saying they would be happier to do so.

“People genuinely felt unhappy and stressed with their low satisfaction with technology at work,” Dave Wakeman, end user computing expert at VMware Australia, told Lifehacker. “It’s not a big surprise to see people preferring their own apps, but end users have turned round and said ‘we hate not being given choice, we feel stressed’. And they felt like IT didn’t trust them.”

“The survey found two things. Most of the employees who responded, 90-odd per cent, had a block, and if they did allow people to hook up other devices they got no support. It’s ultimately going to affect people’s perception of the kinds of organisations they want to work for.”

“There’s now a massive gap between the quality and the type of technology we have at home and what we have at work. It used to be the reverse.”

Is there any way to solve that issue? Not surprisingly given VMware’s virtualisation focus, Wakeman argues that a new application roll-out model is needed. “We’re going to need to jettison some of the legacy ways of deploying applications. It’s really going to take a new approach to IT, a different way of delivering apps and securing data so we don’t have to get obsessed with what device they’re on. The security is going to have to move back from the actual endpoint device. We obsess about the device right now, but the security is going to move back into the network. It sounds like a simple notion but it’s a big change for IT.”

“This isn’t just a fad. It isn’t just people enamoured of queuing outside the Apple store for its own sake; this is a generational shift, and we need to wake up to the needs of users and bridge that gap.”

Your thoughts?


  • “they felt like IT didn’t trust them”
    Nor should they! Security breaches and errors are almost all down to the meatbag operating the controls. Of course people’s autonomy is important for business, but *machines*, *applications* and other tools are another matter altogether.

    Personally, I like that my work hardware is separate to my social hardware. It makes leaving my work at the office (or wherever) something I can easily achieve by physically leaving an object at a place. Mate of mine has doubled his personal phone/smartphone as his work contact number for years now, and now that he’s looking to change jobs he faces the hassle of having to change his number so he doesn’t get calls from the industry he’s leaving.

    • +1 on all points! Especially the meatbag remark.

      I don’t work in IT, so I don’t have the technical know-how to secure my own machine. That’s why my company has an IT department.

      So I’m a self-aware meatbag?

    • I don’t know enough about medicine to perform surgery on myself. So I believe my doctor when he tells me things. I don’t know enough about electrical cabling to wire my house, so I believe my electrician. I believe my plumber, my lawyer, my accountant, my pharmacist, my architect, my mechanic, and every other professional I interact with, because they have specialist skills that I don’t.

      But for some reason, meatbags with over priced support nightmare products seem to think that they know more about IT, than the IT departments are 79% of surveyed businesses.

      BYOD requires a HUGE investment in security and support, or introduces unacceptable risk of even higher costs. For the vast majority of businesses, the ROI of allowing BYOD is negative, and massively so. Which is to say that it costs the business will incur from allowing the policy staggeringly outweigh the benefits. Which makes it a terrible business decision.

      And really, Everyone in your IT department wants to bring their own tech toys into work as well. We’re not saying no to fuck with you. We’re saying no because it’s a terrible idea and despite wanting to play with toys, you pay us to give you good advice about computers.

  • The other side of this is if BYO becomes the norm, then i have to buy a computer to use at work. Work won’t give me a pay increase to buy the computer.
    If you work in a factory then the tools to do the job are supplied. Why should it be any different in the office? Think twice before demanding BYO.

    • You’re wrong regarding workshops supplying tools.
      I work in factory and I’ve spent $5k+ on my own tooling. Work supplies most of the speciality gear but all the general stuff is the responsibility of the employee, though we do get payed a tool allowance. Some places are different, but most are BYOT.

  • The biggest problem facing companies that people don’t think of is how the ownership of data and access works.
    Does the individual accept the companies right to remote wipe their device should it be lost to protect confidentially?
    Who owns the iPhone/Live/Google account and apps? Business or User? Considering that most businesses will not want to pay for personal apps.
    What about support for those users who decide to go outside the T&C’s and break/root their phone?
    What about if employees are using their phone for illegal purposes (e.g. torrenting remotely, viewing illegal content in their region, etc)? Does this mean the business is now liable for enabling their employees to do this?
    What about controlling builds to ensure consistant services across all devices? Tech Support? The list goes on and on.

    It’s not just about saying “Oh yes, here is your Sim do whatever”. There are a number of financial, moral and legal implications for a company letting their employees do this.

    I’m not saying that it shouldn’t happen, I myself have a BYOD agreement with my office, but have had to agree on some points above (can have my phone remote wiped, and I don’t get support desk assistance if it fk’s up), but it’s too hard to just apply across the board in a safe, consistant and legal manner.

  • We have BYOD as an option. If you want to bring your own phone/laptop and we can get it working with out systems, you can. Otherwise we’ll supply a smartphone, a desktop, and laptops if required. We make sure everyone agrees to have the phone wiped remotely if it gets lost.

    The biggest problem we’ve had is our hardware turnaround: People get upset if they’re on a 3-year old blackberry but their co-worker is showing off a new iphone 4S. Explaining that the person bought it themselves doesn’t help, they’re stuck not wanting to spend their own money but unhappy they’re don’t have a shiny new phone.

  • I’ve brought this up time and time again with my employer. They actually do have the ability to allow it but the hoops needed to jump through to get it make it not only prohibitive for myself but for everyone that would be part of the process to allow a single employee access to do it.

    I’d happily use my home ADSL2+ connection instead of the crumby NextG connection they force us to use when working from home. I hardly ever have to work from home, granted, but when I do it is such a nightmare and hideously slow and crap to work. It takes my productivity WAAAAAAAAAAAY down.. and not just because I am not liking the laptop I have to use.. but simply because it’s slow and cumbersome to use the systems in that way.

    Even when I don’t “have” to work from home, I can still do about 90% of the work I do at the fofice over a net connection but corporate mentality and business processes keeps us all chained to our desks. Instead of making a 1hour commute each day, I should be able to work from home and only come in for face-to-face meetings as necessary..

    Oh well.. one day..

  • We provide a Virtual Desktop infrastructure at work and it’s fantastic. They get the VMWare client and we serve a desktop to them via that. They can get to it at home, and it means they can bring whatever they like, and we can (sort of) support it.

    As we are a three campus school, only the senior campus has access to it (we’re upgrading our fiber link later this year so all can have it) and I always get asked why the junior campus can’t BYO. The answer is, unless they’re willing to pay for 1) The software (e.g. Adobe CS5 and Office 2010) 2) The upgrade between the three campuses) or 3) A fee each time we have to look at their machine, then we can’t support it.

    But people still expect that we have the time and the available funds to “just put a copy on” their son or daughter’s laptop because “it only takes two seconds, right?” and don’t listen to our explanations!

  • This topic is so hot right now. Companies need to isolate and protect company data in such a way that protects it from moving onto the D that’s been BYO’d. Then, the acceptable use and security policies for network and access need to be enforced. Simplest way to do this, probably getting the BOY’d D to act as a thin client for a virtual desktop. Then it’s just down to the thin client software, and there’s plenty of support for that across WinMacNux and WinmobAndriOS. There are several companies who can deliver the infrastructure to do this, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware (as mentioned in this piece) included. The company challenge, how to you manage it, and how do you afford it (yes, there are real company costs involved, even though the hardware is being supplied from outside of the budget)?

  • One of the biggest issues is security and cost of licensing and supporting such a wide variety of devices/hardware and software if you have a BYO policy.. financially at the moment it does not seem economically viable for many…

    Also if you think one of the large security issues is as soon as you start posting your entire network access to the internet this also opens up huge security concerns… Lets be honest no matter how ‘good’ your security is if it’s on the web it’s open for attack, just look at some of the banks, very large security companies around the world as well as large corporations that have huge budgets for online security yet they are still getting hacked… what chance does small/medium business stand to be protected if some of the largest companies with all there funding can’t guarantee security online?

    Yes it would be wonderful having every thing in the cloud and accessible no matter were you are and on not matter what device but I think there is allot of questions and issues to address before people rush into the demands and wish list of some.

  • Maintaining any sort of security certification like the PCI DSS in a cost-effective fashion is difficult enough in a completely homogenised environment. There’s no way I’d even attempt it with a BYOD policy.

  • It makes sense in smaller organisations or where data loss isn’t as a big a concern. But deploying VDI isn’t cheap either and when taking support and security concerns into account what’s the real cost of owning these devices? If a users BYOD breaks they’ll still expect IT to give them something that does work. Either way users are getting more and more picky 😉

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