How is ‘BYOD’ and the consumerisation of IT changing the role of the IT Manager?

Posted by Karen on Sep 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is sweeping across businesses throughout the UK; with employees cramming their bags with their own devices for a day at work, or logging on with them from remote locations. According to recent Juniper research over 150 million employees owned smartphones and tablets are used in enterprise – a figure that is expected to rise to 350 million by 2014.

Exploring the reasons behind this phenomenon, The Evolving Workforce Research report found that nearly 60% of employees feel work would be more enjoyable if they had a say in the technologies they used, while 60% feel they would be more productive with better IT resources. Couple this assumed increase in productivity and work satisfaction - with a reduction in hardware costs for employers and it’s easy to see why BYOD is taking off. But what does it mean for the IT Manager?

Security is the big risk for IT Managers when it comes to BYOD. In a recent survey carried out by IBM it was reported that employees were ‘blissfully unaware of what popular apps could be security risks’. Loss of intellectual property and data, viruses that could infect central systems - there are plenty of malicious threats to give IT Managers a headache.

There is security software to help the IT Manager – in particular virtualisation software allows for management and control of mobile devices from a centralised location. Whilst they might also consider locking down mobile devices, only allowing company provided or company approved mobile devices, or restricting staff access to certain sections of the company network. The IT Manager thus becomes involved in a balancing act; does one favour open access to reap all the benefits of BYOD? Or favour restriction which safeguards security but washes out some of the advantages of BYOD? Educating staff and building a security or BYOD policy becomes central to the IT Managers role.

Policy building must though be a consultative process; not driven solely by IT but in conjunction with other departments like HR and legal to ensure that the policy is right for the organisation. Of course it’s also something which is likely to be subject to regular review – given how quickly things are moving around the mobile/cloud computing space.

The consumerisation of IT and the accessibility of cloud computing technologies have led to some commenters questioning whether IT departments might be less relevant in the future. However I think these developments point more likely towards a change in the role of IT professionals. Managing hardware and devices may become a thing of the past and IT Managers will perhaps shift focus towards interdepartmental policy building, business analysis and management of suppliers.

According to Fluidata’s own Systems Administrator, Amjid Rafiq, evolving with these changes though is all part of the job: “IT is continually changing and requires everyone working within this field to continually update their skill set. Having the insight to adapt and harness the potential of these new up and coming technologies will be a key attribute to being a successful IT Manager.”
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