Why BYOD for the Retail Enterprise is Inevitable

Jan 30, 2013 in QSR, Retail

So the debate continues: will BYOD policies be adopted in mass by enterprise clients or stifled due to data security concerns. I think these debates are largely misguided (and if you don’t believe me, you can hear Marc Benioff of SalesForce say basically the same thing)… but I won’t get into that again.

For the retail enterprise in particular, the consumerization of IT is already happening; there is no stopping it. In large retail organizations, the majority of your employees are part of a distributed workforce. To truly connect with them, the obvious solution is to utilize the computer in their pocket: their mobile device. This is why the retail enterprise can’t conveniently write-off BYOD as easily as  large, centralized companies.

Still, it is difficult to figure out how we got to this place.  We went from…

The IT department introduces new technologies to employees.

TO…

The employee pushes the IT department to adopt new technologies.

Just recently, I found the perfect answer to this conundrum from Marc Andreessen and thought I’d share.

Marc simplifies the answer by telling it as a story:

“So the computer industry started in 1950 and basically ran for 50 years with the same model, which was a model where all of the new computers, all the new technology, all the new software started out being sold for the highest prices to the biggest organizations…

10 years ago the model flipped. And so we think that the model flipped to a model where, today, where the most interesting and advanced new technology now comes out for the consumer first. And then small businesses start to use it. And then medium-size businesses start to use it, and then large businesses start to use it, and then eventually the government starts to use it. But this is a complete change from the way it has always worked…

And so if you take a typical mainframe or, even these days, PC-based system and you give it to a 22-year-old college graduate, it’s like beaming in products out of the Stone Age. Why would you do that? Why would you force people to use all this old stuff?

More and more companies are saying, well, basically, if I have to support smartphones and tablets anyway, and my CFO is probably carrying around an iPad and all my new employees are coming in with iPhones, so I have already got to support this stuff, so then I might as well encourage it.”

I think this sums up the inevitability of BYOD for the retail enterprise. Checkout the full interview with Marc Andreessen here, if it strikes your fancy.