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Ascent Index: BYOD (March 2013)

Ascent Index: BYOD (March 2013)

What a difference a year makes. Well, almost a year. For our newest Ascent Index we took another look at BYOD, the evermore popular news topic as more employees use their personal devices for work purposes. Our Index data confirms that BYOD is only gaining steam, and that’s putting it mildly.

In the month of March 2013 BYOD received more than 80,000 mentions across websites and social channels like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Compare that to the June 2012 BYOD Index, when over the course of two weeks we saw 22,000 social mentions, a figure we thought substantial at the time. Prorate that number over the full month, and the 44,000 June 2012 figure falls well short of March 2013’s stats.

So what’s driving BYOD’s social rise? For one, the underlying trend of companies allowing BYOD continues to grow. According to a ReadWrite/Intel survey published last month, 82 percent of companies today allow some or all workers to use employee-owned devices. But with this pervasiveness comes increased awareness of the drawbacks of the trend, as organizations that allow BYOD face the risks of corporate data theft and misuse. According to a recent report by J. Gold Associates, companies are realizing “the current mostly wide-open, laissez faire approach to BYOD is not sustainable longer term, and that more controls and better strategy are needed.”

BYOD security was a topic of discussion at our recent B2B IT Forum on enterprise mobility. One of the panelists from our Forum, Cim Buser of Apperian, wrote a March editorial in VentureBeat about what’s next for BYOD. While there are competing theories on how best to implement an organizational BYOD policy, Cim argued that an important element needs to be employee engagement and education of the risks of BYOD. If employees do not buy into the problem and the solution, they will implement their own workarounds of security policies to get their jobs done.

Indeed, it’s still a bit of a free-for-all with employees’ personal devices in the workplace, but ReadWrite’s Antone Gonsalves argued the Wild West days of BYOD will soon come to an end. I agree with that premise. Current BYOD practices cannot persist under the strains of the increasingly wide range of smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. that infiltrates the enterprise. As our Forum panel discussed, an organization must formulate an approach catered to its specific needs and goals (both end user and corporate), and clearly define the information that requires special handling and protection.

And so, BYOD policy is a current challenge for many organizations with many solutions and opinions voiced by numerous pundits and practitioners. The substantial amount of social data in our Index reflects as much. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say that in a year from now, our Index will show that BYOD interest has waned. I think we’ve reached the peak of the BYOD craze; in the past couple of years we might have we tackled this topic from enough angles that the conversation will slow down moving forward. Maybe you disagree – have we not even scratched the surface of BYOD? I welcome your thoughts in the comment section.

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