BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is an IT strategy that encourages and supports employees bringing in their personal devices, and sets out policies and specifications regarding these devices—and it is in full swing in corporate America. In fact, according to Juniper Research, the number of employee-owned tablets and smartphones used in corporations will more than double by 2014. This means that in just one year, more than 350 million personal devices will be used in some sort of sanctioned way for work across the U.S. As clients and prospects approach Optimal asking for help in creating comprehensive and appropriate BYOD policies (stay tuned for tips on that next month), it has caused me to think about how this trend originated.

BYOD Grew From BlackBerry’s Decline

BlackBerry was the first device to captivate corporate America.  It was the first line of devices designed for corporate—as opposed to personal—use. It dominated the market for a significant period of time because it was the only device that delivered email to your hip and allowed for it to be properly, centrally controlled. Business owners and IT teams were in love, and so were all the BlackBerry users who could be more productive. And then Apple revolutionized computing (once again) with the introduction of the iPhone and then the iPad. Several other manufacturers copied to gain market share and BlackBerry failed to innovate at the same pace. CEOs and business leaders were acquiring sophisticated smartphones and tablets—and they wanted them to integrate with their company’s network.

However, unlike with BlackBerry, there wasn’t one clear corporate device winner. Both the Apple and Android operating systems offered a collection of email, calendaring, and other applications, but no device stood out as more secure, easier to integrate, or a productivity enhancer. By default, and the decline of BlackBerry, BYOD is now the pervasive corporate mobile trend.

The Future of BYOD

BYOD will eventually run its course because, even if you have a strategic BYOD policy in place, data scatter across devices is still risky for corporations. Plus, to be able to actually accomplish work tasks at home and on the road, most employees need specific lines of business applications that currently run only on their office desktops. A tablet that can’t run these applications will never be as powerful in the long run as a mobile device that can (think “laptop”).

The Next Corporate Must-Have?

Which company will take BlackBerry’s former place as the preferred corporate device? Too soon to tell. Right now, there is no single device that has sufficiently enamored corporate America—but one will come. Businesses will only be flexible until there is a compelling reason to mandate a particular mobile technology. The Windows 8 Pro Surface tablet is coming to marketplace, and its draw is that it will be the first tablet to run mainstream corporate applications.  Lenovo, along with many other tablet vendors, is also coming out with a tablet that will reportedly do the same things. Time will tell and, in the end, unlike with BYOD, the corporations—not the users—will decide. When the decision is made, there will once again be a clear corporate market share winner and BYOD policies will slowly decline.

Last Word

The origination of BYOD—and its pervasiveness in corporate America—has been a very interesting thing to witness. It has raised important questions regarding ownership, data security, and network integrity. It has forced IT teams across the country to analyze data and networks from a variety of perspectives in order to create comprehensive BYOD policies. But, unlike many of my colleagues, I don’t think it is here to stay. Ultimately, corporations are smart and will want to once again reign in the data scatter as soon as a clear corporate mobile device winner reveals itself in the marketplace. Stay tuned…the race to revolutionize the corporate mobile space like Blackberry did in the 1990s is on.

Small Cheetah

Optimal’s e-newsletter articles contains original content by Heinan Landa.  Permission is granted to copy this article as long as the following information is included: Heinan Landa is CEO of Optimal Networks, an IT support, management, and consulting company that helps technology drive clients’ business goals.  For more information, visit or call 240-499-7900.


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