BYOD is on the rise and has become one of the most talked about topics in our customer meetings at the moment. This is because it offers users and businesses numerous advantages. When you implement a BYOD scheme, people look after their devices.
There’s obviously a much greater degree of personal ownership involved and employees take the time to maintain their gadgets. There’s also the cost savings generated by fewer hardware replacements.
BYOD also allows workers to pick the devices that best suit their roles. Work in Marketing? OK, use a Macbook. You’re a Sales Rep? Make the most of your tablet for taking meeting notes. This gives employees more direct involvement with IT in a positive sense as it reflects a proactive approach from IT departments, embracing consumerisation rather than working against it. IT in 2012 is about promoting flexibility and BYOD allows that.
But with all these benefits come serious challenges too. The main issue that people are going to worry about is security. Data leakage and the risk of malware are the obvious issues that spring to mind. That aside, there is some great Mobile Device Management software you can use which seriously mitigates the risk of this. Few people will deliberately steal corporate data, but there’s always a chance of leaving a tablet, laptop, phone etc in the back of a cab!
Organisations need to decide whether to fully embrace the BYOD ethos or restrict it ever so slightly. For example, are you going to allow android devices or just Apple? Some organisations suggest that Android’s open format makes it more susceptible to attacks.
Equally, where do you draw the line around management of devices? The parameters need to be clearly defined. If a device breaks, does IT fix it or is it a case of “take it to PC world”? Similarly if people have their own devices, there seems to be an increased impetus to work outside traditional hours. As a result of this, employees expect 24/7 support when they can’t log in on a Sunday afternoon.
There is a concern from some employees around mixing ‘business and pleasure’. Whilst the majority of employees seem keen to embrace BYOD, it must be noted that some will be happy to just logon to their work device at 9 and log off at 5:30. In this case, it becomes clear that you need to understand who should be included in any BYOD pilot. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily want task workers in a call centre working off ipad’s, but you may want your pre-sales team to have that degree of flexibility.
Having some type of strategy, even if it’s relatively vague, is essential. Otherwise you’re going to start running into all sorts of issues. Worryingly, recent research is suggesting that two thirds of organisations don’t have any strategy in place.
When sitting down and considering BYOD, you really need to think about what you want to achieve. How’s it going to help your organisation, make life easier for IT and give the user a better experience? Guidelines and expectations need to be set, as well as a degree of accountability. BYOD is a change in mentality. Not just from the user’s perspective, but also the IT hierarchy in an organisation.
I think it’s safe to say that a good Mobile Device Management software is a pre-requisite. I would have serious reservations about a company even considering BYOD without any type of Mobile Management security tool. It’s important to remember that people now understand IT and how it can work for them. It’s no longer the preserve of the gadget loving geek. Explain to users the importance of security whilst embracing the clear benefits of BYOD.
In terms of addressing concerns and helping make the transition to BYOD, where resellers can help is in formulating a realistic strategy and framework with their clients. From the customers and resellers perspective it’s crucial to understand whether BYOD is achievable, necessary and scalable.
Resellers need to help customers understand what their workforce looks like, manage expectations and create guidelines around usage. There are risks around BYOD so resellers need to weigh up the pros and cons for each specific customer. From the customers point of view, work with a reputable partner who understands the landscape and has been here before.