Bring Your Own PC—BYOPC—is something that lots of folks (myself included) have been talking about for a few years now. It’s the term applied to the concept of end-users “owning” their own laptops while IT resources (such as apps, data, and backup) are provided as a service.
The thinking is that as today’s workforce becomes more comfortable with computers in general, end users will inevitably want to do things that IT doesn’t want to support (like installing their own apps and storing personal data). Today's tech-savvy users also want some personal choice in which type of laptop they use. (Mac v. PC, Big v. Small, etc.)
BYOPC (a.k.a "EOPC" or "EOIT") wasn’t really an option until recently since there was never a good way to cleanly separate “work stuff” from “personal stuff” on the same laptop. But now thanks to client VMs, application streaming, seamless server-hosted apps, and the like, it’s actually relatively easy for IT to provide their apps and desktops as a service and for users to “own” their own laptops.
Personally I think the BYOPC concept is brilliant, and it’s something that I feel the majority of users should be able to enjoy. But as I discuss the BYOPC concept with customers in the real world, I’m surprised by how many say that BYOPC won’t work for them because they could never have corporate data on personal devices. (Or they say that their company would never allow end users to bring in their own unmanaged laptops.)
My next question to them is, “Do your users have admin rights on their laptops?”
Probably 90% of people I ask say, “Yes.”
“Well my friend, if your users have admin rights on their laptops, then you’re already doing BYOPC.”
At this point I usually get protests in the form of, “No, the company owns the laptop.”
But it doesn’t matter. If a user has admin rights on his or her own laptop, then that user “owns” the laptop. I don’t care what name is on the asset tag or who literally paid for it—if users can do whatever they want to a laptop, then they own it.
And that’s a good thing.
What’s it mean to “own” something?
There’s a big misconception with the whole BYOPC concept, namely, some people think the “own” in BYOPC refers to how the laptop was literally purchased. Wrong. The “own” in BYOPC is about who “owns” the control of the laptop. Sure, some companies want to implement BYOPC programs so they don't have to select, buy, and manage the laptops (i.e. the program is a slick way to shift more expenses onto the workers), but the majority of companies who've implemented BYOPC still buy the laptops for the users. In practical terms there are several ways the "own" can happen in BYOPC:
- The employee owns the laptop. They literally bring in whatever they want.
- The employee owns the laptop. IT sets a minimum set of specifications the device must meet.
- The employee owns the laptop. IT specifies certain makes and models they will support.
- The company owns the laptop. Employees are given a stipend to buy whatever they want with the allotted amount. The employee can spend above and beyond as he or she chooses.
- The company owns the laptop. The employee has no choice about make or model, but the employee has admin rights and can install whatever he or she chooses.
I'd argue that the last bullet is the way that laptops are managed in the majority of real-world companies anyway.
So next time you hear someone talking about the (many) benefits of BYOPC, remember that there are multiple ways it can be implemented, and before you write it off, consider that you might already be doing it!