BYOD Strategy Should Include Users Outside the Business: Gartner

Allowing employee-owned devices in the workplace is not just a purchasing policy but needs to be approached more broadly to include other users.

The key decision behind implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy is one of applications architecture and solutions design, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.

Allowing employee-owned devices in the workplace is not just a purchasing policy, but needs to be approached more broadly with the applications and strategies designed for today's world.

"The community of users has expanded to include suppliers, customers, employees and a very broad range of stakeholders," Darryl Carlton, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "We are no longer developing applications for deployment to an exclusive user base over which we exert standards and control."

In addition to the changes in the workforce, all enterprises (business, government and community) have been pushing their processes beyond their own organizational boundaries and it is increasingly clear that the IT organization no longer has absolute control over the tools used to access the corporate systems and data.

"Designing your applications to meet the demands of BYOD is not the same as setting usage policies or having strategic sourcing plans that mandate a particular platform," Carlton continued. "BYOD should be a design principle that provides you with a vendor-neutral applications portfolio and a flexible future-proof architecture."

The report also noted applications within the business now need to support a diverse and demanding community of users both within and outside of the organization, as the user community is growing to include suppliers and customers, and organizations must make provisions for this.

This development is leading to the need for IT to look into the techniques and practices of what Gartner calls "global class" computing—an approach to designing systems and architectures that extends computing processes outside the enterprise and into the cultures of the consumer, mobile worker and business partners.

The report recommends that enterprises develop their strategy based on an assumption that BYOD will happen, and that they will need to support users outside the organization's boundaries. Starting with this assumption will mean that open standards are quickly enforced for all solutions.

"For CIOs to consider BYOD activities within their organization to be a temporary problem generated by a few disaffected employees would be a tragic mistake," Carlton concluded. "This is a leading indicator of change for which an appropriate response is required. Reasserting control is not an appropriate response. This is a permanent and irreversible shift in the way that IT is procured and implemented to support the organization, suppliers and customers."