NAB starts getting real about BYOD



blog It’s only been six months or so since the National Australia Bank admitted that it had cautiously — ever so cautiously — dipped its toe into the turbulent waters of implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme in its operations. And who could blame the bank for its reluctance to fully commit to such an initiative without quite a lot of evidence that it’s going to be worth it? After all, banking IT operations are usually highly structured and controlled, secure places. You don’t want to be introducing computing infrastructure into such an environment that has the capacity to compromise security or productivity.

However, six months after it started looking into BYOD with the assistance of its existing outsourcers IBM and Telstra, NAB appears to have already become somewhat of a convert of the philosophy. Computerworld tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):

The pilot has concluded and the technology is now in production for more than 450 employees, with more to come soon, [NAB general manager of infrastructure, Kari Schabel] told CIO Australia. “Results of the current BYOD trial have so far been encouraging.”

This result isn’t really a surprise, given the continual analysis showing that BYOD has great potential. Just this May, for example, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst David Willis had the following to say:

“BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades. The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs.”

“We’re finally reaching the point where IT officially recognises what has always been going on: People use their business device for non-work purposes. They often use a personal device in business. Once you realise that, you’ll understand you need to protect data in another way besides locking down the full device. It is essential that IT specify which platforms will be supported and how; what service levels a user should expect; what the user’s own responsibilities and risks are; who qualifies; and that IT provides guidelines for employees purchasing a personal device for use at work, such as minimum requirements for operating systems.”

However, seeing a highly locked down organisation such as a major bank open up even a little bit to BYOD is highly encouraging; it shows just how far the BYOD movement has come. It’ll be fascinating to see how the BYOD story plays out at NAB, if the early trials have been this encouraging, this quickly.

Of course, the bank won’t ever hand over the situation completely to its users; many employees, such as bank tellers, for example, work in such highly structured jobs that it seems like it would be hard to impart any substantial degree of device freedom into that position. But, speaking as someone who has previously been frustrated by the lock-down control mechanisms of large corporations during previous jobs, I have to say I think NAB’s employees will really welcome any expansion of the policy.


  1. Yet another example of positive spin from nab regarding its own infrastructure, without anything to back it up.

    3 years into an major outsourcing deal, and they’re still running Windows XP on their desktop and using Lotus Notes for email. What exactly have IBM delivered after all? How is that core banking transformation faring? All I hear is crickets chirping.

    Obviously they’re so keen on BYOD as it provides a way for them to bypass their useless outsourced IT providers and get their employees to provide the technology upgrade instead.

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