How BlackBerry's decline will force BYOD

Many companies remain entrenched in the corporate-BlackBerry-only mobility world. But it won't be long until they join the ever-growing BYOD movement.

The Bring Your Own Device approach to mobility has plenty of issues, from who can wipe the device to who owns the data. Companies have been handling these issues in small pilot projects, manageable test sets, and in some cases, rolling it out wholesale. But what about the companies that haven’t done that?

What about corporations that need the security that BES and BlackBerry undeniably provide? The places where employees still get issued a BlackBerry to handle all company business on? The IT departments with a practical knowledgebase built up over years of handling the BES/Exchange hybrid?

You know, the places that are going to come to a grinding halt when RIM goes down the tubes. Let’s face it, RIM is dead. There is no coming back when the tank tread of technology has already rolled over your neck. They are still pumping out code, still pushing updates, and still have the most secure phone and data system out there right now. But they’re just waiting for the death rattle to happen, what with a billion dollars of inventory in warehouses, PlayBook tablets not even worth firesaling, and BlackBerry 10 amounting to too little, too late.

Will it be a dead stop? No. Many enterprise customers, even down to the medium-sized market, have their own BES servers, and the cell carriers will no doubt keep their systems running to keep milking those accounts as long as possible.

But over time, with patching stopped, the BlackBerries of the world will get more and more vulnerable and less and less useful. And they will go away. It won’t be very easy for any company to replace smartphones in bulk, and all at once. After all, buying thousands of iPhones or Android devices isn’t going to be cheap. If they can pay out a simple subsidy to each employee for their own account, and just have instructions for each moile OS, that might be a lot easier and cheaper than either propping RIM up or buying truckloads of new phones.

So, those companies might embrace BYOD out of a combination of the need for mobility and the financial benefits of permitting employees to use the smartphones they already own.

What implications will this have? The disclosure of electronically stored information (ESI) would be altered for those companies, and they should go over it with the legal department. Onboarding and termination procedures would have to change. And legal should also be involved in determining how to handle departing employees’ cries of “you can’t wipe my phone!” as well as other issues.

Luckily, the BYOD market is definitely capable and strong. There are plenty of mobile device management (MDM) products, private App Stores, and other similar tools to make BYOD manageable.

In either case, any company that still has ties to BlackBerry should start making preparations for BYOD now, or risk falling behind in support when it becomes the de facto standard among their user base.

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