In my 2020 end user computing predictions, I wrote that BYOD will be reaching an important inflection point in 2020.
Many readers may have rolled their eyes and thought, “What, Jack is talking about BYOD again? What year is this? Is he serious?” But I’m here to say that yes, I am talking about BYOD, it’s 2020, and I’m serious.
I’ll grant that BYOD isn’t quite the buzzword that it used to be. However, there are fundamental reasons why we’ll always be talking about BYOD, and more specifically, there are important new changes and trends affecting it today. Fortunately, there are also a few overarching lessons we can take away.
Why we’ll always be talking about BYOD
Simply put, BYOD is hard.
BYOD involves putting corporate apps and data on personally-owned devices. There are always going to be conflicts between end users and the IT departments responsible for managing and securing data. The EMM techniques for dealing with BYOD have improved massively over the last 10 years, but there are still decisions and compromises to be made.
For example, iOS 13 User Enrollment isn’t available in all countries. Android Enterprise work profiles can block users from sideloading apps on the personal side of devices, but users might have legitimate reasons for wanting to do this. Third-party email apps are sometimes slower than the built-in apps. Mobile devices can only be enrolled in one MDM server at a time. And so on.
BYOD is also a moving target. Mobile OSes and devices have new MDM APIs every year, and in general, new features that can affect the enterprise. In addition, user expectations, employment trends, laws and regulations, and public discourse about privacy and security are changing constantly.
Current trends affecting BYOD
Android 10, rolling out now, marks the deprecation of the old Device Admin management APIs in favor of Android Enterprise, which includes work profiles for BYOD. Work profiles have been available for several years, but many organizations are just now starting to use them.
iOS 13 includes User Enrollment, a new MDM mode for BYOD. This was a very important and welcome development, but we’re waiting to see if iOS 14 will bring changes that allow more organizations to take advantage of it.
Together, these updates to Android and iOS mean that enterprises now have new tools to accommodate BYOD.
Turning to broader trends, we recently learned that plenty of enterprise companies are using public app stores to distribute internal apps. California AB5 is just the latest law to go into place that will affect the employment environment. And employee experience is now a huge focus in end user computing. All of these can affect BYOD, and they’re all new.
If there’s one thing to know about BYOD, it’s that there are very few hard and fast rules that apply to all scenarios. In a sense, BYOD is “solved” because it’s no longer the hottest trend in IT, and there are a plethora of mature products and technical approaches.
But in another sense, BYOD is not “solved,” because BYOD is a moving target, as I’ve outlined. This brings us to one of the few definitive rules: You can’t set and forget your BYOD policy—you have to re-examine it on a regular basis, as technologies and trends evolve.
The second guideline that I can give is that it is okay to say no to BYOD. There are some situations where the tradeoffs or risks for the company or the user are just too great. In this case, it’s perfectly fine for either side to decide that BYOD isn’t for them. But again, the technology has improved dramatically, and there are many more viable approaches then there were back when BYOD mania was at its peak.