BYOD: a Right or a Privilege?

It used to be that there was a certain amount of pride in having a company-supplied computer or cell phone. Nowadays, for those I know with this perk, it just means having two computers or two cell phones. It seems that company devices are unnecessary in a world where every competitive employee already owns a computer or smartphone, something which certainly was not always the case. So what’s the big deal with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)?

A sample of the future workforce, college-educated employees ages 20-29, were surveyed regarding this issue. Their feelings regarding BYOD were overwhelmingly strong– the workers felt it was a right, and not a privilege, to utilize their own devices at work. In fact the workers answered that, regardless of company policy, they currently engage their personal devices at work. 1 out of 3 said they would break company policy to do so.

So why are companies against BYOD? Well for one, with employees engaging their personally-owned devices, companies lose control over the IT hardware and how it is used. How does a company tell an employee what they can and cannot do with their personal devices? The lines inevitably become grayed. Security of company data is also an issue. The same rules must be followed with personal devices as when using company-owned devices, but when an employee is let go, retrieving the company’s data becomes trickier.

This considered, two-thirds of the young workers surveyed believed they should be responsible for the security of devices used for work purposed, not the company.

Are these employees simply being selfish, or is there something to BYOD?┬ásays there are benefits. The most obvious benefit being the money saved–up to $80 a month per user. With BYOD, the users cover most, if not all, costs related to their devices, and in most companies with BYOD policies, they report being happy to do so. This is most likely because of the second benefit: employee satisfaction. Workers chose their personal devices themselves, and usually for good reason. Therefore, they are much happier to use a device of their personal choosing than one chosen for them by the company, with which they may or may not find themselves compatible.

Users are also more likely to be frequently updating their personal devices, keeping the company on the cutting edge of technology. With BYOD, the company benefits from the latest technological features without having to constantly update each device themselves–or foot the bill. For users, this is also less hassle, as many company updates are slow and tedious.

Could it be that what on the surface seems a selfish demand of young employees, could actually be mutually beneficial to them and their employer?

Give me back my iPhone, Grandpa!

Also, get off Facebook and don’t say LOL, ’cause you’re old and old people just shouldn’t.

More and more recently, that old man meme about how Grandpa can’t understand iPhones, Linux, or the cloud is showing up more and more often. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of computerworld claims that the joke is becoming “increasingly irrelevant.”

The article, Grandpa the programmer, argues that older people (baby boomers) are just as competent in using new technology as are us younger folks. I know I’m asking you think way back to the beginning of the semester, and I know how hard that might be, but bare with me please. We spent more than one class discussing the notions of technology immigrants and technology natives, where we labeled those people born into the Digital Age the natives and those who have, at a later point in their lives, adopted new technologies the digital immigrants. If I remember correctly, we (yes, me too) argued that it was practically infeasible for technology immigrants to adapt to the Digital Age environment entirely. Now, jump to the reading for this week (if you read it). In chapter one, Norman argues, to some extent, that digital immigrants have a hard time adapting to new technologies. He gives several charming anecdotes regarding this idea that when new, more intricate gadgets come to the market, people, particularly older people not accustomed to the maturation of technology, just don’t know how to work them! These seemingly true stories magnify Norman’s persuasion and credibility. I mean, I totally want to believe him that the maturation of technology is growing at a speed that digital immigrants just cannot keep up with, right?

But now, we have Vaughan-Nichols writing in plain contrast to this idea that has been brought up time and time again. I think we were so into telling our own stories about our own grandmothers and grandfathers not knowing what to do with an iPad that we didn’t even think about the age of the creator of the iPad. Apple is seemingly the leader in producing brand new, state of the art technologies — probably the most popular gadgets that old people can’t figure out. But the CEO of Apple, is no spring chicken! He’s plenty old enough to be a grandfather and he must understand technology in order to develop such innovative ideas and successfully bring them to the market.

I understand that Vaughan-Nichols is talking a lot regarding the actual creation of the code, and that’s much different than just adapting to a tangible product. But didn’t we say last week that older people were more about Facebook because they didn’t have the time or the skill for all the HTML included in Myspace?

I’m not going back on my argument that it’s more difficult for people not born into the Digital Age to pick up a brand new gadget — mostly because my grandma asked me where the keypad was on my phone at dinner last Sunday and because my mom continually asks me for the meaning of those stupid text message abbreviations. But I think it’s super interesting to think about the creators of these technologies that us young kids are infatuated with. They could be my grandfather!

What do you think? Does the baby boomer generation understand technology and all it has to offer? Or were you right saying that they cannot ever entirely grasp new gadgets?