For 2014, I see an increasing convergence of two trends that may not overjoy many of us.
The first is that bring-your-own-device (BYOD ) to work will be increasingly embraced by employers as well as other organizations, such as schools and universities. Earlier this year, it was predicted that half of all companies will mandate BYODs as a condition of employment by 2017. While I think that is an aggressive target, given not only the security issues involved, but the application/data/OS integration issues as well as the rapidity of device turnover, it is a trend that is already taking hold. Companies such as Cisco and VMWare have mandated BYOD, and universities (and now high schools) are increasingly doing the same. And while employers usually have some sort of device reimbursement plan, I can see that going away in the future as well.
The second trend has been the ever increasing demand by employers to access personal information on employees to check up on their productivity, health, etc., and even their off-duty activities. It is estimated that over two-thirds of employees already electronically keep track of their employees. What better way to get continuous, real-time access to what an employee is up to than via a mandated BYOD paid for by the employee themselves?
Now imagine coupling that information with predictive analytics. Are you unhappy at work and thinking about leaving your job for another employer? Your current employer may be able to determine that before you do, decide that you pose a future corporate “intellectual property risk,” and thus eliminate your job, after wiping all of your information from your BYOD of course. (That’s something that companies who mandate BYODs already claim they have a right to do.)
Back in 2007, Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence stated that Americans needed to drop their outdated notion of privacy. Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, he argued. Instead, Kerr contended, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people’s private communications and financial information.
Unfortunately, I think Kerr is entirely correct, especially when you consider BYODs and employers’ ever increasing employee-life voyeurism. For future employees, a key decision in deciding who to work for will be how businesses make use of and safeguard their personal information, especially after they leave, since the notion of “personal privacy” is rapidly becoming passé.
[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]