Nice article, Cabe. There are a couple other aspects to this story that's I've seen anecdotally. For one, these devices let employees bring their own workspace. I expect more and more people will use these devices to work from home. Another thing I've seen is people are using their personal devices for work rather than using the devices handed out by IT. Many people would rather use their personal iPhone for work rather than using the company Blackberry.
Freedom from I.T. snooping, activity tracking, and control of work resources drive this trend. Like I said, my colleagues and friends all have gone down this route. Only using the work computer for things like email and file storage. Of course, some backlash will be felt. Banning use of cell phones. Perhaps even using a cell phone jammer (though they may be illegal now).
Only real downside is, what if your personal system gets broken or stolen along its lifetime. All one's unbackuped work will be lost. I imagine their job would soon follow suit.
I just finished reading an article in WIRED about password security. If you consider this trend of personal devices at work combined with the general lack of security provided by password protection - it seems likely there will be more and more hacker issues arising in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see some rather draconian protections put in place by companies as backlash. Great article by the way. You touched on a very relevant and timely workplace issue.
The division between one's personal existance and one's employment existance is a challenge indeed. Keeping personal separated from work, in my case, was helped a lot by the published management policy that everything done on company equipment was company property and not private at all. So when I chose to do work at home it was done on my computer and then transferred to the company system by removable media, which assured me that my system was kept separate from corperate examination. No, it was not quite as convenient as other methods, but good security is seldom as easy as ineffective security. We all need to remember that fact.
What always bugs me about "the cloud" is the fact that the cloud is still just computers somewhere remote. Systems that can fail, lose data. Some I.T. guy could spill a mountain dew on some harddrives, and there goes your mountain of work and files.
It reminds me of about 10 years ago when the Microsoft Hotmail servers went down, and a huge majority of people lost all their emails. This included me. I lost all the exchanges I had with a girl I just met at the time, who is now my wife. The loss has shaken my trust in the cloud.
The cloud is great for portability, but I wouldn't rely completely on it.
I agree with your point that it is very challenging now to separate one's personal life from one's employment existance. As we carry our computer devices around when we travel, time is spent doing both work and personal business on the same device. One of my co-worker solves this problem by carrying around one smart phone for work and one smart phone for personal business (which can be cumbersome).
Interesting timing on this article. There was a discussion at my company about this very issue. IT (and maybe Legal?) won't allow it for fear that company documents will be available on non-company-controlled devices and so can "disappear" when the person moves on.
For those concerned about privacy (and I'm thinking about those looking for their next career move rather than nefarious activity), I would be concerned that if the company needed to have specific software on your personal device for security purposes, that they would still have the ability to check. It would just be more difficult for the user to mentally disconnect.
The biggest problem I've seen with company owned devices is for those caught in a downsizing. I knew a number of individuals who given their walking papers and asked for their phone...with all their business contacts who could help in their new job search.
I found your comment "I even use my own oscilloscope, data logger, and soldering station. Times are changing. The consumer world and the corporate business structure are inevitably merging" interesting - I agree, the trend is not limited to Smart devices. I can't count the number of times I have used my own equipment because I didn't want to wait the week it would take for the P.O. to get approved or it was a one shot deal and so rather than incur the expense on the company when I already owned the needed equipment, I used my own o'scope, or function generator, or soldering iron, or whatever...
I have my own machine shop at home, which I have used for my day job. I thought it was a fair trade to go home early and make parts in my shop.
That was until one day, I ran my mill outside its work envelope. I immediately destroyed my servo motors and drivers. That was two months ago. I just received parts to fix it. It's going to cost me quite a bit to get back up to speed in both time and cash.
So, it is not always beneficial to use your own equipment on the job.
Ouch - Sorry that happened! Good point. Since you were at home using your own shop equipment, I bet you wouldn't be covered if you hurt yourself either. Sometimes the quickest solution is not always the best...probably not a big issue with test and measurement equipment but then I could also see someone not trained trying to use something of mine and frying it...hmmm...
My situation is a mirror-image of most of the scenarios posted; being an independent product design consultant, I have all of my own equipment and I either carry it to a client job site or I work remotely on client business in my home office. So, while all the equipment I use is of my own choosing, its the cost of doing business. Pros & Cons; You get what you want, but your pay for it.
I agree Jim - that is a definite advantage to me also. I can choose the tools of my trade when I go that route - I don't have to try to convince management to buy a particular software package for example. I used to do contract work writing test and measurement software for hardware test systems and often the customer just wanted a turn key system - they didn't care how I arrived at the final product as long as it could test to their specifications and meet their budget. It was really nice to use my own stuff that I was already very familiar with - often I could write lots of preliminary code in demo mode at home and then bring it on site to connect to the HW for debug.
Yes, if your client is "results driven", it allows a lot of freedom. I use the metaphor of the carpenter's hammer if people question the tools I use. "Are you concerned that the roof lasts 30 years and doesn't leak, or are you concerned that the hammer was a Stanley -vs- a Craftsman?"
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