BYOD is one of the hot buzz words among enterprise and education blogs right now. While I am a big fan of 'baseline' BOYD (where you set a range of supported devices like iPad running iOS 6 as the minimum), I don't believe that employees should be able to bring any device they want. On the flip side, you have employees bringing devices in that they are experts of. They don't need the IT department to teach them how to setup their mail client. They just want to know the server address. They don't need to know how to install the company CRM app. They just wanted to know the name of it and their password. These are the employees who simply want us (the IT departments) to make sure they have a fast Internet connect at the office. They are 'good' (in reference to when you ask someone do you need anything and they respond with 'nah, I'm good'). They don't need 'us' for every little computing task. The Post-PC era has changed us forever. The Gmail generation (the people who were in college when Gmail was released) is thriving in the workplace. If their company switches to Google Apps, then they need very little training. They just need their email address and temporary password. They probably know more Gmail tricks than I do. Again, they are 'good'. IT departments are being shoved out of the end user device world, but this will give us more time to focus on routing protocols, firmware upgrades, and RF optimization. All that time we've spent rebooting XP machines can be spent on things that we actually like to do, right? I hate to break it to you, but there is a new trend and if you are a SysAdmin by trade, then you need to be afraid. Managed Service Providers (MSP) is the new cloud computing.
What is a MSP? A MSP is a turn-key IT operation. They do it all. They come in and set up and manage your entire network for a monthly fee. It's similar to when an accounting department outsources payroll. If end users are taking care of their own devices, then the IT department is at risk from being out-sourced to a MSP. Gartner predicts this will be a $288 billion dollar industry in 2013. As employees become more skilled with technology, the IT department will be handling fewer help desk tickets. As they handle fewer tickets, the shrinking of the department is inevitable. If there is less work to do, then you ultimately need fewer IT people (this is what they call operational efficiency). The same amount of work is being done with less people. The 'powers that be' might take notice of this and look for other ways of shrinking a 'cost center' (IT is basically an expense that doesn't generate revenue). Instead of having a Microsoft Exchange admin, the company might switch to Google Apps or Office 365. Instead of running a custom built CRM, Salesforce.com might be deployed. As this trend continues, all the IT department is left with is maintaing the firewalls, switches, and WiFi. This is where the MSP enters. The pitch is that its a turn-key operation. The subscribing company pays a monthly fee and 'it's all handled'. Upper management can out-source the network infrastructure, while the end users handle their own devices. Where does this leave the IT department? It leaves them being handed a pink slip. We are no longer needed in the above scenario. It's sad, but true. We are a manual cog in a wheel that is being automated.
What does the IT person who would prefer to remain employed do about this? You ultimately can't fight it. This trend is growing. You've got to evolve. You've got to become more than just a broke/fix person or a SysAdmin. You've got to help turn your IT department into a solutions department. You've got to be able to do things that the MSP can't. You've got to be able to solve business problems with technology that create operational efficiencies (now you are paying your own way). You need to be able to connect puzzle pieces. You see work flow issues between departments and piece together solutions to solve it. Let the MSP handle the 24/7 uptime and maintenance windows. You can spend your time coming up with technology solutions that allows your end users to get more out of their devices using the network that someone else loses sleep over. The future is set, so you've got to choose the train you want to jump on. MSPs are the way of the future, whether we like it or not.