April 04, 2012, 6:07 AM — DALLAS - Tarek ElHadidi, CIO at Freescale Semiconductor , went to engineering school in Cairo in the 1980s. While there, he and other students took part in protests against the Egyptian government, just as the Arab Spring movement did in 2010 and 2011.
But in the 1980s, ElHadidi said, he and a few hundred fellow protestors were quickly dispersed by government forces and could not get their message out to the masses.
In contrast, the Arab Spring movement succeeded in drawing in millions of supporters and removing President Hosni Mubarak from office by taking advantage of mobile technology and social networks.
Speaking at Computerworld's SNW Spring 2012 conference here today, ElHadidi said he sees a similarity between the way repressive governments attempt to shutdown the spread of protester information and the way corporations attempt to limit access to information via mobile devices.
In both cases, he said, the policies are likely to fail.
"We see the consumerization of IT trying to come into our offices and ... our typical reaction is 'let's protect our server rooms and data warehouses,' " ElHadidi said.
Instead, he said,corporate executives should "Embrace this disruption. This is going to happen. We don't want to do what the Egyptian government did."
ElHadidi said about 48% of Freescale's workers are Generation Xers, 28% are Millennials and only 24% are Baby Boomers born in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.
Like Arab Spring protestors, young corporate end users are demanding freedom, in this case both in the types of devices they use and and in the way they access and utilize corporate information.
"The perception in the end-user community is, 'I will bypass IT because it's too hard, it's too expensive, and there's too much bureaucracy.' We've seen this pop up everywhere in our company," ElHadidi said.
Such workforce demands are behind Freescale's bring your own device (BYOD) initiative.
Freescale, a maker of semiconductor technology for the automobile, networking and consumer product industries, began implementing a BYOD policy last year.
The company uses the AirWatch mobile device management tool, which currently supports iOS and Research in Motion BlackBerry devices. The company is currently working to add support Android-based devices.
"Consumerization of IT is bringing an empowered set of users. Our approach is to make use of that," ElHadidi said.
Freescale developed a mobile device management policy that allows workers to bring their own devices. The policy requires them to use Microsoft Exchange for email and to agree to having their device remotely wiped if it's lost or they leave the company.