Interest among employees in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement surged between the fall of 2011 and mid-2012, catching many organisations and their IT teams off guard. In most cases, initial resistance quickly morphed into a scramble to develop policies and practices that accommodated employee device preferences while keeping corporate information and applications (at least somewhat) secure. Now, nearly three years later, research from HDI reveals that though organisations have matured in how they address BYOD, both the level and nature of readiness and management of BYOD varies widely. Usefully, the report quantifies those readiness levels and offers helpful insights for both support and business leaders. 

Among the BYOD trends discussed in the report:

1. BYOD Is Growing Fast

Already, an average of 15% of total IT help desk support tickets relate to issues with mobile devices. There’s progress in supporting mobile devices… According to the HDI findings, “Industry leaders continue to be preoccupied with managing mobile device support, though there appears to have been a shift from reactive, frantic support to proactive, innovative support.” 53% of enterprises report they’re “keeping up with” or “staying ahead of” mobile device technologies, an improvement from 43% two years ago. Only 40% now say that they’re “struggling” to keep up, down from 52% previously.

But the report also pointed out that employers are in many cases offering workers a wider range of choices and more advanced mobile options than before–and are generally more inclined to offer support for these company-provided devices than for the same equipment if owned by employees. As an example, 81% of organisations offer full or partial support for company-owned iPads, versus only 63% that offer the same support for employee-provided iPads. Put another way, in many organisations, it’s better mobile technology that really matters in terms of improving productivity and competitiveness–not who supplies the devices–driving changes in support practices.

2. BYOD Policies Are Essential

Also noted in the HDI report, “Organisations with well-defined policies are more likely to report that they’re keeping up with the pace of emerging technologies…62 percent of support organisations with well-defined policies reported being able to keep up with or stay ahead of the pace of emerging mobile device technologies, compared to 48 percent of those without well-defined policies.” And flexibility is required. According to the HDI study, “Support for company-owned iPads…increased 35 percent from 2010 to 2013, taking its place as the most supported mobile device… (a spot formerly held by BlackBerry).”

However, Microsoft Windows has traditionally enjoyed a much bigger share of corporate desktops than Apple, and with Windows 8 (and Windows 10 on the horizon), some people are beginning to question the continued dominance of Apple in the mobile market. Though the future is uncertain, rapidly advancing mobile technology can turn today’s brand favourite into yesterday’s news quickly, making it vital for IT groups to retain flexibility in their mobile device and OS support offering and policies.

3. Where Does IT Go Next?

Support organisations are clearly still adjusting and evolving their BYOD policies and practices, reflecting changes in technology as well as employee preferences. Among other actions enterprises can undertake most effectively support mobile workers and their devices:

  • Implement enterprise request management (ERM) for submission and fulfillment of service requests, utilising a centralised, intuitive self-service portal to simplify BYOD device registration.
  • Incorporate advanced workflow automation software to help manage device registration and even trigger remote installation of needed software.
  • Offer schedule-based support (like Apple Genius Bars) for issues that can’t be resolved through self-service, to better accommodate remote and mobile employees.

As enterprises are increasingly attracted to the support cost-saving potential of BYOD, the best approaches and policies will continue to evolve and develop. Keeping abreast of changing mobile technology is vital, and implementing an agile service delivery approach such as ERM can help organisations maintain the capabilities and flexibility to continue adapting to evolving mobile technology and worker expectations.