Remember the good old days when you could truly leave work at work? Your desktop computer was the only place you could access work information to do your job, so once you left the office, the work stayed there until you returned the next day.
That was a pleasant 20th century dream which started to dissipate at the turn of the 21st century, when mobile phones continued their rise and began to allow people to check email on the go -- remember BlackBerry? -- so when they were out of the office they could still be “in touch.”
The End of the One Computer Per Person Era
Now, instead of urging your company to give you a corporate-issued phone, you’re likely asking them to simply pay for the data you use on your personal phone which you like more and have tailored exactly the way you want it. The lines between work and play have never been blurrier, with information workers rapidly increasing the variety and combination of devices they use for work.
According to a Forrester Research study on data security and privacy, 10 percent of respondents surveyed use a combination of desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone for work. Yes, you read that right. There is a growing number of people who have their big desktop for when they’re in the office, use an ultrabook when they’re working from home, take their Microsoft Surface on a business trip all the while monitoring email as it comes in on their Apple iPhone 5S. More than a quarter of people are using three or more types of devices to do their jobs on a daily basis.
All of that is to say that the age of one computer for one person is long gone. The days of only using company-issued technology are over. The pervasive nature of technology today means that we have more access to our work than ever before -- we can be far more flexible in when, where and how we do our jobs. While this comes with benefits such as improved employee morale, there are also potential headaches for companies that are trying to ensure their intellectual property and data do not fall into the wrong hands.
The same Forrester study found that nearly half of all data breaches in 2013 were accidental in nature. Not Edward Snowden-level intent, simply placing a document in the wrong place. With myriad devices in play at any given time, it’s an unfortunate reality that an employee could mistakenly release data that can cost millions of dollars and even permanently destroy a company’s reputation.
Fork in the Road
Companies are facing a fork in today’s business productivity road. They can either bear left and ignore the fact that people are using devices they didn’t give them to access company-specific information, or they could bear right, embracing the fact that workers are using whatever technology they feel most comfortable with to get their jobs done.