BYOD workplaces need the cloud to reach their full potential

October 16, 2014

The consumerization of IT is the overarching trend that is redefining the way we all work. Users of technology in a business setting are starting to behave more like consumers – they want convenience and they want to use their own mobile devices as they see fit. Employees want to be able to work when and where they want in a "bring your own device", or BYOD workplace.

This has caused a massive shift in how IT departments do their work. The wider range of touchpoints through which employees can access company data means that IT can no longer focus solely on their on-site infrastructure, but must also find a way to integrate personal devices that previously fell outside of its purview into the ever-growing network. IT, then, is having to maintain a very delicate balance between employee convenience and network security.

Convergence of trends
The trend toward a BYOD/mobile workplace has converged with another trend – cloud computing. The cloud allows users to access their data and other work items from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. This feature – instant access regardless of location – gives today's employees the flexibility and autonomy they crave. And while the productivity benefits are notable, the cloud can be a regulatory quagmire for IT departments.

One of the main reasons for this is that employees, in their quest to work however they please, will find any way to get the job done in a way they find convenient. This means that they will not hesitate to use a public cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox to store files or collaborate on projects remotely. These services are useful, but concerns about the security of free cloud apps can give even the most seasoned IT professionals fits.

How IT can preemptively assuage cloud fears
The cloud isn't going away. Therefore, as TMCNet noted, smart companies will work with this trend and not against it. IT departments should avoid swimming against the tide and instead provide their own cloud services that give employees the flexibility they need while allowing for greater regulatory oversight that wouldn't be available in the public cloud.

You get what you pay for with the cloud. Free services like Dropbox simply won't offer the level of protection that a private cloud or a paid third-party provider can. It's up to the IT department to figure out how to find convenient and secure cloud services before employees get too attached to their public, free solutions.