Dimension Data > Digital Workplace > The natural evolution of Bring Your Own Application

The natural evolution of Bring Your Own Application


Krista Brown: Principal Practice Director: Mobility, CX and Workplace Productivity

Shawn Bass: VP and CTO of VMware End-User Computing

The concept of Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) may once have been seen as negative, introducing risk and insecurity to the enterprise. Today, driven by changes in user preferences, workspace requirements and employee demand, it has become an opportunity. This is one of Dimension Data’s Digital Workplace IT Trends for 2018.

The evolution of shadow IT

Shadow IT is defined as the technologies, systems and solutions introduced to the enterprise without the tacit approval of systems administrators, IT departments and the enterprise itself. It’s the user-selected app, the handy software tool that makes life easier, and the cloud-based solutions that have been developed specifically with the end user in mind.

The continuous growth and evolution of Shadow IT in the organisation is being driven by the end-user. The employee wants to be closer to the needs of the client, be more productive, and have a better work-life balance and they achieve these goals by bringing the applications they need into the enterprise environment.

The ripple effect

Just as the mobile phone introduced the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Shadow IT is introducing the concept of Bring Your Own App (BYOA). The workplace has always been the hub of technology – people never used to have computers or multiple devices at home, until now. Over the past few decades the slow immersion of individual into technology has seen it seep into every home and lifestyle until it has become indispensable.


Organisations can no longer be resistant to the increase of BYOA (or ‘unendorsed apps being used in the enterprise’).  The CIO is starting to realise that if they approach it intelligently, then they can drive employee happiness and productivity while benefitting from greater visibility and bottom line results.


People now have access to amazing consumer applications. It’s a defining moment for the enterprise and its IT teams. They’re realising that they cannot move fast enough to provide the tools at the rate that people want to consume them, and that consumer UX (user experience) is light years ahead of enterprise UX. Consumer applications are progressing quickly, are designed by top engineers and focus heavily on the UX. This is why the consumer wants to use them; they’re all about the experience compared with the clunky and overly complex applications on offer from the enterprise.

None of this is new. The commoditisation of technology has handed the user access to incredible technology and they want to use it, they want to enable themselves to perform more effectively within their lives and careers. What’s new is that IT is beginning to accept that it has to move from a command and control system to one that is built on trust.

IT has to trust that the user wants do the right thing.  IT needs to monitor, measure and support while also providing the right training and environment to ensure that the user understands what the right thing is.

The Dimension Data 2017 Digital Workplace Report revealed that 62% of organisations say IT issues are a major barrier to successful adoption of new workstyles. The need to extend and support internally developed applications on a diverse range of mobile devices and operating systems can be challenging, particularly where multiple device ownership models are supported.

VMWare and Forbes Insight’s Digital Workspace report found that there was a clear discrepancy between what the CIO thinks they are providing the user and what the user thinks they are receiving. 47% of CIOs thought they gave their employees the apps they wanted, 24% of users agreed.  28% of CIOs believed employees were free to choose the apps they wanted outside the business, only 10% of users agreed.

The report also found that employees are more likely to find a company a desirable place to work if they are given the freedom of BYOA and not made to feel that X is the way they have to work when they ultimately prefer Y. It plays a significant role in helping the business attract new talent, improve productivity and decision making, and enhance collaboration.

The fine line

However, this doesn’t mean that IT just moves straight into a trust mentality and away from security. It’s about giving people the flexibility they need to benefit from BYOA and in switching mind-set towards finding ways of monitoring, governing and facilitating BYOA.

There has to be structure so the enterprise knows what is being used, what devices are using it and whether or not they are actively increasing employee engagement and productivity. And then there is a need to address the discrepancy between what IT wants to do and what the users want to do. The goal is to create a digital workplace which gives users the freedom that they want and IT the control that they need.

Steps to success

Considering the complex landscape that lies between the apps that are unknown to the enterprise and those  which are enforced by the IT department, the CIO has to find a way of embracing the versatility of BYOA without compromising on security and efficiency.

Here are some simple steps to opening up the enterprise to success:

  1. Employees that are given the freedom to access the apps they want on their preferred  device are twice as likely to inform the IT department what apps they are using.
  2. Find out what is working well and then find ways of supporting it. Use analytics and their potential to measure productivity gains within a cohesive BYOA strategy.
  3. Focus security on the identity of the user and the things they access during the day, look at the context they are operating in so you can make risk-based decisions.
  4. Look at your business strategy, how you can enable this through technology and place BYOA strategy, process and methodology into your overall digital workplace transformation strategy.
  5. Ensure compliance by educating the user. Employees generally want to do the right thing, but occasionally they need to be reminded as to what the right thing is.
  6. Empower the client, the customer and the employee – and the resulting great experiences they have will reinforce the benefits of Shadow IT.

To see all of the IT Trends for 2018 click here 

Join our webinar on 11 July on the natural evolution of Bring Your Own Application