August 05, 2014 by

In the show "Orange is the New Black," Piper Chapman is an upper class woman who, thanks to some questionable behavior earlier in her life, finds herself sentenced to several years in prison. As you might imagine, she's less than thrilled at the prospect. Matters don't improve much once she arrives and sees the conditions of the correctional facility. It's safe to say that her sheltered life and exposure to pop culture did not prepare her for life on the inside.

But Isn't This Story About BYOD?

It sure is! As you're no doubt aware, the bring-your-own-device trend is rapidly picking up steam, factoring into an ever-increasing number of business communications solutions. Every day, more firms embrace BYOD plans, enabling their employees to leverage their personal smartphones and other gadgets for work-related purposes.

But others resist. Why? Well, largely because of fear of the unknown, and because of false impressions. Most IT decision-makers have company-owned policies ingrained in their DNA by this point - it's all they've ever known. The idea of losing that degree of control over their companies' communications technology is, simply put, frightening.

And they've heard horror stories. They've heard about companies that experienced data breaches when an employee's smartphone, containing sensitive corporate data, was left behind in the seat of a cab. They've heard about compatibility problems, about viruses, about everything that could possibly go wrong in a BYOD context. And yes, they've heard about other organizations' successes, as well. But stories where things go right don't have the same impact.

You See Where This is Going

Piper went to prison because she did something wrong. For IT leaders, BYOD can often feel wrong - it goes against their instincts.

Piper's early experiences with prison life are less than stellar. She's intimidated, she's deprived, she's overwhelmed. The same often happens when a firm first embraces BYOD. It requires a different mindset, a new approach, and that can take some time to achieve.

But Piper committed a cardinal error: She did not prepare herself adequately. She could have researched prison life and learned how to better thrive in the environment, but instead she winged it. Companies don't need to make this mistake. They can thoroughly examine other firms' BYOD efforts and learn about pitfalls to avoid and best practices to adopt.

And once Piper acclimated to life in prison, she - well, she didn't enjoy it, exactly, but she learned to appreciate it. When she (slight spoiler) gets released for a brief furlough, she realizes that she doesn't regret the experience.

Here's where the metaphor really breaks down, because most companies with BYOD don't feel begrudgingly accepting of their choice - they celebrate it. And with the right approach, you can, too. BYOD may seem like a scary new world, but it's ultimately where your company will thrive.

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