Bring Your Own App (BYOA)

by Josh Warcop

It’s no surprise with the growing trends around mobility that there is a resurgence of “rouge IT”. Rouge IT essentially means employees or teams adopting apps, tools, or solutions that directly contradict what corporate IT has provided. It’s been recently stated that 41% of employees insist the tools their company provides does not meet their needs. Let’s think back just 5 years ago when corporate provided apps were really all employees had. Think back before the expansion of the app marketplace and now carrying miniature super computers in our pockets. Now let’s fast forward and it is easy to count the free apps that augment our work activities.

Slow IT can cause rouge IT. In this high demand and mobile first world the pace at which corporate IT can deliver is staggeringly slow. One way to look at it might be this; “Why open a help desk ticket when I can download a free app? Then I can get our team on this app and we don’t even need IT!” If it hasn’t been admitted that this is happening then a closer look should be taken.

The security focused and data loss prevention conscience have had their alarms going off for a long time. Cloud centric applications for file hosting, collaboration, screen sharing, meetings, and texting have flooded the marketplace. Documents are here, documents are there, data transfers one way and then back another way.

Here is the corporate IT challenge –

Is this really a bad thing and what can we learn?

Typically rouge IT is shut down with a large ban hammer. Group policies roll out, firewall rules go in, and employees are forced back into the silo of corporate IT. This leads to the next statistic that more than half of employees admit to using rouge apps without their IT department knowing. IT isn’t being told what is going on because they’ll take it away. What is missing is the learning opportunity and analyzing the gap between what corporate has provided and how employees are working. Inquire about these apps that are being used and there may be legitimate reasons BYOA was adopted.

The real self-reflecting questions come next. How can our organization provide these same tangible benefits? You know you may need to stop rogue IT activity, but is it going to hurt employee productivity? Has it been truly recognized that corporate IT may be delivering outdated enterprise tools?

It would be easy to throw out a lot of statistics, but we’ve all had bad experiences with apps. When you have a bad experience with an app it is typically removed and then you’re off to find something better. This is happening hourly with corporate IT provided apps because that is the culture the mobile workplace has created. The challenge is to deliver apps that are user friendly, secure, and provide a measure of customization. It may be impossible to determine every way which an employee works, but if you’re flexible enough with corporate apps employees will want them back.

Corporate IT has to become a blend of hybrid IT, application development, infrastructure, and thought flexibility to augment the free app marketplace. The easiest place to start may just be looking at the app store.

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