For the past couple of months we’ve been asking you for your feedback on your top-of-mind concerns around the Consumerization of IT and challenges arising from the trend towards Bring-Your-Own-Device. As my colleague Jason Leznek wrote back in November, these trends and how to deal with them can be likened to a San Francisco trolley.  You can be on the tram; under the tram or hanging out the side, holding on for dear life.  But whichever option you choose (or have chosen for you), the tram is already well along the track, so you do need a strategy.  And woe betide the smug individual that thinks they’re standing safely at the tram stop, having held back the BYOD tide.  Chances are your users are finding sneaky ways to sabotage your peace of mind (have a read of Adam’s “You want to do what?” post) and in all likelihood you’ll wake up soon and find yourself very firmly beneath the tram!

With that sobering image in mind, it seems clear that most of our readers have at least begun some serious exploration of the options. Perhaps not surprisingly, different businesses have different reactions to giving users more flexibility.  Some see it as a risk worth taking to drive greater productivity and presumably higher end user satisfaction.  Others see BYOD as an evil to be avoided at all costs, if at all possible. What was relatively consistent from your feedback were the factors you need to consider in making choices about what’s right for your business.  Heading the list is cost.  While early BYOD supporters saw the trend as a way to save money, the reality very quickly proved to be anything but! Secondary concerns included duplication managing PCs & mobile devices and securing company data.

So what are the options?  Try to go back to the old days, where IT controlled all devices and access to data?  Well, you could try, but it’s likely to end up in the “under-the-tram” scenario. You can just give in.  If the users want to use their own devices to access whatever they want, then let them.  Not an option.  Another tram-wreck waiting to happen. Or just do something to get those rogue devices under some kind of control, offer users new ways of working and retain your control over company information and applications.  There are a number of point solutions on the market, why not just use one of those?  This is certainly a solution and is better than being under the tram.  But, it could lead to additional cost and duplication as you have separate solutions to manage different parts of your environment … one for PCs, one for mobile devices, something different again for identity, yet another for publishing … the list goes on.  And yet for the user, they just want a consistent experience to get their applications and data, and preferably with as little effort on their part as possible to authenticate! These are concerns that the People-centric IT team at Microsoft also take very seriously.  How do we help you empower your users to use the devices they choose to access the data they need, without compromising the security of that data and without adding additional cost and complexity to your management platform?

While there’s no magic pill, we’re constantly working to offer you real choices that don’t present you with a set of uncomfortable compromises or an unrealistic price-tag or even just the demoralizing prospect of having to repeat the same task twice for the same user.

We hope you’ll stay tuned over the next few months, or better still, get on the tram.  How?  By taking a look at the Microsoft People-centric IT solutions of course!