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Is BYOD Killing Collaboration?

BYOD is great for the user. It’s a story of user empowerment. It’s a story of increased user technical acumen, preference and choice.

But BYOD can be a catastrophe for businesses, particularly the IT department which is already under siege from all sides. Their budgets are shifting, moving outside their department. CMOs are out-spending CTOs and CIOs on technology at a staggering rate. Infrastructures and deployments that they once managed are now being trusted to third-party vendors. IT is the one charged with enabling BYOD while still maintaining the levels of data security and user satisfaction across their organizations.

“Do more with less” is the law of the land, and trying to manage security and support for any possible device or application rather than the corporate-sanctioned ones is an impossible endeavor.

Finding the “Why” of BYOD

The question is “Why?” Why are individuals or departments circumventing IT and using their own cloud apps? There are a number of variables at play. IT is too slow, approval processes are too long, the chosen apps and devices don’t meet my team’s needs—the list goes on. The ease of deployments that SaaS and the cloud have introduced into businesses means that practically any employee at any organizational level can pick and choose the tools they want to do their jobs. Unless IT has an iron-clad hold on their corporate networks, there’s nothing preventing unsanctioned browser-based tools from entering the picture.

Again, BYOD is a fantastic win for the user. But the bigger picture is that BYOD poses significant challenges and dangers to the efficiency of your organization, particularly when it comes to enabling collaboration.

Inconsistency is the Enemy of Collaboration

Collaboration suffers within an organization where BYOD and Bring Your Own Application are the rules of the day. And they are increasingly the rule, rather than the exception: according to a survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan division Stratecast, over 80% of respondents confessed to using non-approved SaaS applications in the workplace.

Modern business collaboration is exponentially more complex today than it has ever been before. The size and complexity of networks, security infrastructures and the need to support multiple endpoints and access methods make providing seamless, reliable and cost-effective collaboration solutions a task that only a few companies in the world can manage.

And that’s just the technology side. It’s important to remember that collaboration is more than just headsets and software—it’s a business process, one that impacts every level and department within an organization in different and profound ways.

Introduce into that mix unsanctioned and unsupported collaboration tools that individual departments or line of business owners have procured on their own, and collaboration becomes essentially impossible. These tools can’t speak to one another, essentially siloing your departments and creating communication barriers to the collaboration process rather than tearing them down. Meetings become an exercise in frustration and futility, leading to wasted time and reduced productivity.

And this inconsistency creates even more headaches for IT, making it impossible to manage quality, security and support costs.

Empowering your employees with choice is likely an inevitability. Declaring war on user choice is not a sustainable strategy. However, collaboration—both the technology and the processes—demands consistency. Can IT provide solutions that are easy and intuitive enough that users will choose them on their own?

Agree or disagree? Follow me on Twitter and let’s discuss.

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