Written by: Adriaan van Wyk, CEO
In a hyper-connected world where increased connectivity is the norm, the way we think about productivity has changed. These days, we not only expect people to be constantly accessible, but we have become accustomed to the ability to solve a given problem at a moment’s notice. Technology is fuelling these expectations, especially in the workplace. With the cloud, information is always accessible and with increased mobility, it’s available when and where we need.
The technology enabling this enhanced productivity – coupled with a workforce that is increasingly self-sufficient and entrepreneurial – is what’s fuelling something called bring your own application (BYOA) phenomenon. We’re encountering a new generation of workers who see a problem, want to fix it, and will go build or create the necessary tool themselves and move on instead of waiting for an IT supported and “approved” application to be built for them.
Nurturing a BYOA culture in your organisation leads to greater productivity and benefits including innovation, happy customers and engaged employees. But, as most CIOs fear, this new phenomenon can become a double-edged sword without proper governance. The key is to give your people the freedom to solve problems, while still implementing a set of guidelines that work to create accountability, especially in organisations and industries that may require more security.
With that in mind, there are four questions to consider when creating a productive and worthwhile BYOA culture.
1. What will BYOA mean in your organisation?
Will BYOA come to mean bring or build your own application, or both? There is a real difference in how you can approach BYOA and the pace at which you adopt these practices. Dropbox is a great example of ringing your own application. You may purchase, download, and begin using the application right away. Like other applications, it solves a specific problem and provides an immediate solution, without involving the IT department. However, customisation is limited.
This is where building your own application comes into play, allowing you to customise the technology that best suits your company’s needs. Building an application empowers the company with ready-to-use templates that enable them to quickly solve problems specific to their organisation. They’re quick to build, simple in structure and repurpose-ready.
2. How will you protect your information?
Protection management is one of the most critical decisions. The challenge with some cloud storage services lies in the fact that information lives outside the boundaries of the organisation and, in regulated industries, this poses many hurdles and risks. When building business applications, you may create new information that needs to be protected and managed for synchronisation while avoiding duplication. CIO’s must decide on a roadmap and the right tools that will allow them to turn data into logical business information and hide the complexity of where it originates, or how to save and update it from the end users.
For information that needs to be protected by source systems (e.g., SharePoint, SAP, Oracle, MS CRM, etc.), the build method may work best, as it allows users to abstract their information and surface it as a logical business entity to leverage when building their own apps. It also has the added benefit of never duplicating or copying the data, so no additional risk is introduced to the organisation.
3. What role does mobile play?
The original BYOD phenomenon – bring your own device (BYOD) – means there are plenty of devices and platforms that are in use across your organisation. In order to have successful adoption of applications and drive a viable impact on the business, it’s critical that new applications and solutions can be built once and then quickly modified to play across other devices.
The same concept applies to data security. It is possible for mobile applications to be built so organisations can understand where they are being accessed from and what data should be made available offline. These applications also enable overarching data protection and know how and when to sync end-user interactions. In addition, templates can be used so you can easily build these types of applications without needing to consider technical design decisions.
4. How can you use this next generation of tools to empower your organisation?
Employees want to focus on solving business problems and driving results. They don’t want to wait for IT departments to “fix” their problems and they don’t want to focus on the technicalities of how to build applications to solve their problems. Instead, they’ll embrace new tools, adopt new concepts and embark on a new (and faster) approach to drive the business forward. This is a paradigm shift enabled by technology and CIOs need to invest the time to embrace next-generation solutions into their organisation. A change in mindset is being asked of leaders, and while it may sound small, it isn’t easy – and can be the difference in an organisation’s ability to truly realise the benefits of a BYOA environment.