What is Bring Your Own App (and what does it teach us about the consumerisation of IT?)

Posted by: Schepisi - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

What is BYOA?

No, that’s not a typing mistake – Bring Your Own App (BYOA) has stemmed from the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement that began tricking through workplaces as far back as 2009, and continued to rise in popularity throughout the following years.

Beyond subscription costs, IT departments of many businesses sometimes struggle to stay on top of technological growth and trends. The consumerisation of IT has spread beyond the devices we use (see more in our blog post about a Bring Your Own Device policy) to the actual apps we use on these devices.

What is Bring Your Own App?

The consumerisation of IT

Bring Your Own App is the movement of individual employees using their preferred applications to perform work tasks, rather than IT-sanctioned ones. These apps can be used either on their own devices or through company-owned devices.  

Bring Your Own App has been touted as the next phase of the digital revolution, closely trailing behind Bring Your Own Device. The way we use devices is becoming more consumer-driven, that is, we use devices (and apps) the way we want, not the way an organisation dictates.

The consumerisation of IT can increase business agility and flexibility, and as such, many organisations are embracing this digital movement.

Was there a BYOA revolution?

If you’ve spent some time researching and learning about the rise of BYOA, you might have seen it described as a ‘revolution’.

It’s purported to have occurred at some point around 2011 or 2012, or even as late as 2014. Conflicting sources defend each of these years. Dates aside, the common theme of the revolution is that…

  • Lightweight mobile apps reduce the strain on IT

  • As personal device usage increased, so too did the apps

  • Individuals do not want to be tied to employee-chosen apps

  • BYOA extends employee freedom (which could result in increased productivity)

Benefits of BYOA

Productivity gains

With the increase in remote and home workers, working with preferred devices and applications can help increase productivity. That’s a win for both businesses and individual employees.

Remote or off-site workers needn’t compromise efficiency

With more advanced technology, work has become a thing you do rather than a place you go.

Personal devices (and of course the corresponding apps on these devices) means working away from the office has never been more attainable.

So whether you need to stay home with sick children or you’re killing three hours in an airport, employees can continue to use their preferred apps to conduct productive business work.

Cost reductions

Where are businesses expected to see reduced costs?

Software licensing and purchasing costs can add up over time, and monthly payments over many years (for multiple users) can quickly add up. BYOA can help reduce the investment needed for business-related applications.

Further, many apps (for individual users) include a low-barrier entry: these apps are often free (or will set you back just a few dollars).

Reduced employee training

Another cost-effective benefit of BYOA lies within employee training.

If an individual comes to an organisation with a preferred application (that they have used in the past and know well), businesses can reduce the need to train newer employees in the use of company-chosen apps.

Bring Your Own App concerns

Of course, with every new technological movement comes some concerns. These concerns often stem from fear or uncertainty, but this doesn’t mean they can just be swept under the rug.

What’s obvious from reading the following concerns is that a policy – created by the company and agreed upon by employees, is vital.

The most common concerns lie with:

Governing usage:

IT departments may struggle to govern apps used by individuals either on their own personal devices or (secretly) though company devices.

Viruses and malware:

Rogue app usage may result in a higher risk of viruses to infiltrate business systems or data.

Employee misuse:

While it’s safe to assume none of us would want to think of an employee as an individual who would intentionally misuse confidential business information, it is still a valid concern. This is just another instance confirming the absolute necessity for a policy.

BYOA has become yet another facet in the consumerisation of IT. Employees can be less complacent when it comes to the technology and devices they use to do work because of the virtually limitless options available to them. What apps do you opt for at work? Share your thoughts over on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Bring Your Own App