While most enterprises today are increasingly feeling the imperative to "do mobile," many don't know where to begin and there are many obstacles to success. Gartner says the key decision about BYOD is one of applications architecture and solutions design.
"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," said Darryl Carlton, research director at Gartner. "BYOD should be a design principle that provides you with a vendor neutral applications portfolio and a flexible future-proof architecture. If the applications exhibit technical constraints that limit choice and limit deployment, then the purchasing policy is irrelevant."
Most organizations have diverse workforces, made up of full-time staff, external contracting agencies, independent professionals, and part-time staff. 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.
"The community of users has expanded to include suppliers, customers, employees and a very broad range of stakeholders," said Mr. Carlton. "We are no longer developing applications for deployment to an exclusive user base over which we exert standards and control."
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 global-class approach exploits the characteristics of Internet-enabled computing, and employs applications and services that are more flexible and inclusive, simpler and less-expensive than those designed for enterprise. The only way to address the impact of global class is to mandate it as a principle in the applications strategy.
"BYOD is an indication that internal IT is not providing adequate support for a segment of the user population and they are seeking alternatives elsewhere," said Mr. Carlton. "It's important to recognize that BYOD, bring your own application (BYOA) and cloud adoption are leading indicators of long-term structural change occurring in the industry, not the demands of a few errant staff demanding their favorite brand of technology."
Mr. Carlton said that irrespective of the BYOD momentum, the simple fact is that the user community is growing to include suppliers and customers, and organizations must make provisions for this. Customers will access online inventory and purchase order systems, expect access to shipping information and to take control of their own interaction with the organization. These are users over whom the business has no technical control.
Applications within the business now need to support a diverse and demanding community of users both within and outside of the organization. Different groups of users are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the capabilities of their devices and solutions to support them in delivering outcomes for the business. The IT organization cannot dictate standards or implement solutions that require proprietary controls.
"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," said Mr. Carlton. "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."
Gartner recommends that enterprises develop their strategy based on an assumption that BYOD will happen, and that they will need to support users outside of the organization's boundaries. Starting with this assumption will mean that open standards are quickly enforced for all solutions.