2012 Prediction: MokaFive
One of the major trends through 2012 will be the increased use of personal, portable devices in the enterprise. More and more employees will be using their personal phones, tablets, and laptops to access corporate resources and be productive, even if the use of personal devices is not officially sanctioned. Today’s employees are just too accustomed to being able to browse and read documents on their iPad, look up information on their phone, and finish up a presentation at home on their laptop (after all, they did spend an hour shopping over the holidays for gifts on Amazon from their work computer). Employees just want to be productive and so they will use the personal devices they already carry and are familiar with to do their work.
Enterprises will respond in one of three ways – fight it, ignore it, or embrace it. Narrow-minded organizations, those who view IT departments as risk and cost centers, will fight the trend. They will strive to restrict their employees by implementing security protocols and protections, with punitive responses to violations. These organizations may feel more secure by taking a hard line against personal devices, but the result will be less happy, less productive employees. This also won’t stop employees from bending or breaking the rules – they will now just go underground, secretly using Dropbox, Gmail, or remote desktop to access corporate data from non-corporate assets. There will still be at least one front-page-level security incident at a company that tried to fight the trend.
Most enterprises will try to ignore it. They will turn a blind eye and have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on the use of personal devices, responding only if/when there is a major security incident. Employees will continue to do what they can to be productive, sharing tips with other employees on how to hook up their Mac to the corporate network or how to bypass the corporate firewall. Individuals or small groups will sign up for cloud services rather than deal with the corporate-sponsored solutions. If/when there is a security breach, enterprises will be forced to confront this trend and have to scramble to devise and implement a solution.
The enlightened enterprises will recognize this trend and embrace it. They will provide support and resources for using personal, portable devices in a secure way. They will provide stipends to employees so they can use their device of choice. They won’t mandate Windows versus Mac or Blackberry versus iPhone, recognizing that personal preference will lead to happier, more productive employees. Some will provide their employees iPads or Android tablets to make them more productive. Sure, they might use it to watch movies on the plane, but they will also use it to review documents and answer emails. As long as enterprises make it easy for employees to do the “right” thing when it comes to personal devices, they will follow.