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BLOG: The unintended consequences of forced BYOD

Galen Gruman | May 14, 2013
When personal equipment is required to handle business data and processes, say good-bye to traditional notions of corporate power

In other words, forced BYOD confirms that employees— at least knowledge workers — are free agents or contractors fundamentally in charge of their information and processes. The business is the client, not the owner, despite whatever its CEO, HR chief, and legal counsel imagine they've done in their employment agreement. Forced BYOD ensures that is only a back-end function.

Is this bad? Probably not. It's certainly where we've long been heading as the business social compact began deteriorating in the 1990s -- remember the big fights over at-will employment and "you're responsible for your own career"? Businesses have long been automating away workers where possible and treating the rest as temporary contractors, regardless of their employment status.

When you adopt the contractor/outsource model, you fundamentally let go of the monolithic corporate model, which also means its information management, process management, process ownership, and information ownership. Forced BYOD formalizes that change.

Unfortunately, the companies that adopt forced BYOD likely have no clue what the decision really means. There is no technological way to maintain the control of the monolithic model in the contractor reality. And the regulatory and legal systems are largely clueless on how to work in the contractor reality. Already, traditional notions of data backup, deletion, and e-discovery are bumping against messy realities of intermingled personal-and-work devices.

It'll be a very messy transition, with lots of unintended consequences.

There's perhaps a silver lining. As I said, we seem to be going in that direction anyhow, and companies that adopt forced BYOD will at least make the shift explicit. We need that explicit acknowledgement to start the real discussions on how the business world and its regulations and legal requirements will need to change.

Whether you're a business manager, IT manager, lawyer, or regulator, these discussions will make the consumerization and BYOD debates we've had in the last few years look like a walk in the park.


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