When life is too much, roll with it, baby
Don't stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby
Hard times knocking on your door
I'll tell them you ain't there no more
Get on through it, roll with it, baby
Luck'll come and then slip away, Yu've gotta move, bring it back to stayYou just roll with it, baby
Come on and just roll with it, baby
You and me, roll with it, baby
Hang on and just roll with it, baby
— Steve Winwood, "Roll With It, Baby," Virgin Records,1988
Over the last couple of years a huge buzz has been building around the consumerization of IT, workers using their own PCs, smartphones, tablets and phablets at work, a movement that also goes by the name Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
There are all sorts of advantages to BYOD. First, it is more or less inevitable that staff get sucked in to a lifestyle that winds up forcing personal time to merge with a 24/7 connection to work. It is as if they were standing next to a corporate black hole of inescapable servitude. Go corporation.
In this environment, woe betide the mid-level manager who isn't ready to handle the latest customer crisis in Namibia at 2 in the morning even if she spent the previous evening partying like it was 1999.
Kids got a soccer game? No problem, you can call in to the team meeting from the stands. Got a dental appointment? You can still be part of the corporate machine on your way there and your way back (even if your mouth is numb and you can't stop dribbling).
Second, the onus for having equipment that works is on the user. Their smartphone breaks? No problem. IT's only involvement will probably be to tell the user to contact the cell service provider and place an insurance claim. Home PC bites the dust? Nope, NOP (Not Our Problem!). Go to Fry's and flex that plastic, baby!
And guess what? If it's your own toy, er, tool, you are going to want to have the latest and greatest. Think IT will go out of their way to get you a brand new iPad 4 when an iPad 2 will do the job just fine? Hell no! So, IT can count on a user base that will upgrade faster than IT could afford to if the corporation actually owned the equipment. Everybody wins!
Third, workers are happier if they have their own tools. Come on; who wants to borrow their neighbor's drill or lawnmower? Exactly! And it's the same with tech.
Users want to own their own gear so they can put personal stuff on it, browse what they please, and play any game they like to their heart's content without worrying whether IT is looking over their shoulders, disparaging their poor use of holy light in a battle on the Terrace of Endless Spring in World of Warcraft ("Dude! Check out Bob from accounting ... he just got fried by an orc 'cause he's so slow and now he's blaming it on 'lag'! What a noob!").
But there's a downside to all of this, too. First, IT loses control. You might argue that IT lives on the edge of losing control even in the best run environment (you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment), and a consequence of BYOD is IT needs to become very agile, very "roll with the punches" and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune made glorious summer by this ... er, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah ...
Second, because of the 24/7 involvement with business, staff can get burned out. Try getting woken up three or four times a night for a week in a row with clients who can't read the manual and see how quickly you go postal.
So, what else might be a problem? Well, we've been calling this trend "Bring Your Own Device" but it's also "Bring Your Own Software" (BYOS), and "Bring Your Own Malware" (BYOM), and ... and this is one of the least recognized issues ... "Bring (and Take) Your (and Our) Data" (BaTYOaOD; which, I admit, is not even vaguely catchy but there we have it).
The trouble is that the consumerization of IT will continue whether we like it or not and the only strategy that can save IT from insanity and chaos will be to embrace everything, own nothing, and roll with it baby.
So, what's your strategy?