The term "individual contributor" covers a lot of ground — from brain surgeon to the shipping and receiving clerk at your local Wal-Mart. I'm not sure which of these two is a better fit for a virtual desktop, or which one has a Mac at home, but I do know that the individual contributors who spent their own money on technology last year to do their jobs, shelled out $1,252.60 on hardware alone, and another $556.90 on software. That's a heap o' cash.

When we asked them why they spent the money, 42% said it was something they use in their personal lives that they wanted to use for work. Another 27% said their own equipment is better than what their companies provide (presumably CT scanners, portable defibrillators and Sony PSPs can be ruled out). How do their companies feel about them using their own devices and software? 48% said their firms would either not approve, or make them stop using it.

Of course we know the usual reasons why: Security and company policy, and the "benefits" of centralized IT and shared services, among others. I don't know about you, but I always found "shared services" to be a bit of a sham. You know how it works: the VP with the biggest, high-profile project gets all of the services, and the rest of the plebes get to "share" the table scraps. Want a copy of Microsoft Project or a new laptop for that customer service rep who starts next week? Sorry…Steve's program is using all of the Project licenses, and all we have left in the closet is Pentium II desktops…but they have ergonomic keyboards!

And this is how it starts. Employees with a responsibility from the CEO or their own boss to meet business goals by executing well, don't make their careers by putting policy first. They make it by putting execution first. If they have everything they want from the company, they will live within the policies. When they want something else and can't get it, policy goes out the window and they devise ingenious ways to keep from getting caught. Is this bad? Not inherently, no. It would be if the employee engaged in illegal or unethical activity, but most of the time, it's honest people just trying to get their work done without being hassled.

Why not use this free energy? Why not have a formal policy and technology framework that allows your firm to embrace this show of initiative and passion? Why not unleash employees' productive potential by giving them freedom, and implementing a bring-your-own-computer policy? Why cripple your best people with bureaucratic processes and draconian controls? You can do it, and Michele Pelino and I will show you how. It's the biggest IT green field opportunity of them all!

This is a highly charged and polarizing topic, filled with strong opinions and bravado in equal measures. Bring them with you, and join us for a deep dive on BYOC best practices on May 24-25 in Las Vegas, at Forrester's Infrastructure & Operations Forum 2012.