Personal Devices At Work

Two sides of the user-provided-devices-in-the-enterprise coin.

Mark says it's all good.

Bob points out why it isn't.

Personally I am more on the side of "No." This is because as an IT person, I understand more of the security and technical implications that having random personal devices used for corporate business.

The bottom line here is, as always, money. Supporting a device costs money. Dealing with the security implications either costs money or can cost a huge amount of money should something go wrong.

I think when users think that corporate IT is "getting in their way" and "not helping them get their jobs done", they are missing the point.

Yes, IT is here to help you get your job done. However, it isn't here to help you get your job done in the way you feel is best for you. Corporate IT is here to ensure that the entire company's interests are looked after so that the company can get its job done.

This means we get to balance things like
  • the cost of supporting applications, systems, and hardware -- this means we like to standardize, so that we can minimize the potential combinations we have to support;
  • the costs of security -- meaning we have to consider the risks of devices getting lost, or applications going bad, or company data getting stolen, or (worst case in my opinion) protecting company data from disgruntled or malicious staff;
  • the costs of refreshing -- how frequently do we bump to a new OS, or application rev, or new hardware platform;
  • the costs of new technology -- blackberries, iPads, whatever, if someone wants them we have to understand how they fit into all of the above categories.
And let us be honest here, all of this are costs incurred beyond the initial price of the device. When someone says "I want to use..." they are not thinking about what it will cost the company to support that.

Personally I like the company giving me equipment. It means that it is the company's problem when things don't work. It means that fixing those things happen on the company's time. I don't like some of the tools I am obligated to use, but I understand why the company picked those tools that we did.

Best of all, it provides a clear differentiator between "my stuff" and "customer/company stuff".