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Universities know BYOD

In July 2013, Acronis released the results of a study which highlighted that 60% of companies “had no personal device policy in place” and 80% of organizations “haven’t educated employees on BYOD privacy risks”.  BYOD or Bring Your Own Device, is a phenomenon, where employees want to use their own personal devices (such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops) for business purposes and to access business data resources.

Later this month, I have the opportunity to speak to attendees of the IT Roadmap Conference & Expo when it makes a stop in Dallas/Fort Worth.  I will be speaking on the topic of Mobility & BYOD, and as I told the folks who were vetting me for this speaking engagement, BYOD is old hat for higher education IT departments.  I made this statement, because universities have been dealing with students bring their own devices to campus , since universities began providing network connectivity in residence halls.  In a August 2013, CITE World (Consumerizaiton of IT in the Enteprise) article titled “Want BYOD advice? Talk to a university IT department,” my position was affirmed by Mike Corn, chief privacy and security officer at the University of Illinois (UI) at Urbana-Champaign.

However, Mr Corn concedes that higher education institutions and corporations aren’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison.  While I’ll agree that universities don’t have the same regulatory requirements as some corporations, I believe we all are wrestling with ways to intentionally leverage personal owned mobile computing devices for business purposes.  For universities, the business purpose is educating students, and many institutions struggle to understand how mobile devices can be used in meaningful ways to enhance the academic success of their students.  In my opinion, BYOD isn’t about the devices accessing networks.  The center of the conversation is about business processes and how these devices can be intentionally engaged to enable business professionals or students to be effective and productive.  This concern is an apples-to-apples comparison, and many universities have made significant strides to engage personally owned devices into teaching and learning.  For this reason, I am a believer that higher education has some expertise related to the BYOD strategies.

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