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How CIOs can integrate those who embrace-and avoid-BYOD

Younger generations expect the always-on benefits of mobile technology, but other employees may not. It's up to the CIO to bridge the gap.

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“How do you make BYOD work for your organization? You have to respect the culture and understand what is required by your business.”

—Tony Young, CIO of Informatica

Younger employees are rapidly transforming work cultures with their unique demands for mobility. As "digital natives," younger generations of workers expect—and even prefer—the always-on, work-anywhere capabilities of their mobile devices. But some colleagues may be more comfortable with traditional work styles. Both approaches to work are good for the business. As the CIO, your goal is to maximize the potential of both types of employees.

The gap between workers who embrace the always-on mentality and those who do not can seem impossible to bridge. It is up to the CIO—who is part salesperson, part relationship builder, and part cultural diplomat—to create a harmonious work environment.

"Mobile devices are rapidly changing many things and the 'network of things' that IT must manage. But the bigger question is not the impact on IT. It is the impact on the workforce itself," says Tony Young, CIO of Informatica. "In many ways, mobile has made our professional lives worse as we are now working every day, every hour, everywhere. We are in an always connected world," he says.

BYOD—but only if you want?

"It is a very complicated issue. How do you make BYOD [bring your own device] work for your organization? You have to respect the culture and understand what is required by your business," cautions Young. "Is your business global or local? Is there a generational gap? Is your industry regulated? There are complicated issues you need to address."

CIOs also should avoid seeing the entire organization from their personal point of view and making decisions based on their own preferred ways of working. You have to see the organization as a whole, including:

  • How the company is growing
  • Who is being hired
  • How the technology infrastructure will scale
  • How to balance the risks of BYOD and employee choice
  • What will be the cultural impacts of BYOD

"Integrating" instead of "balancing" work and life

The challenge for CIOs is that there is no clear answer—you will not find a technology panacea that will enable you to accommodate every employee's preferred way of working. But a good first step toward enabling people to successfully collaborate is to evolve your thinking. Instead of "work/life balance," talk about "work/life integration.”

Provide technology that allows people to blend their professional lives with their personal lives. "There is not one answer for everybody," Young cautions. “You have to decide what spectrum of choices make sense for your employees and your company, and allow people to find their own place along that spectrum.”

No matter where your company stands with BYOD, the fundamental issue is how you get the best possible work from your people. The successful CIO will figure out how to protect the enterprise from too much risk while also creating an environment that attracts the best and brightest people. If you do not, the best and brightest will go to your competition.

Read Young's blog post "How Do You Enable Mobility in the Enterprise?" for more of his perspective on the BYOD trend.

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