Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades. The issue of BYOD is on the radar of nearly every enterprise. IT was historically the leader in identifying, selecting and deploying the best technology for the business, but that time has passed. Today users are tech-savvy, and they are the ones getting the newest technologies first.
There is no stopping the employees from bringing their own devices to work, connecting them to networks and accessing data. Since users are selecting their own tools that help them to be more productive and effective, why would business want to keep employees from using them? The key is taking a stance of enablement combined with effective business rules and policy for each different class of user.
The story so far
In just a few years’ time, BYOD programs have gone from being a rarity to being common in business and government. Initially these programs evolved as a way to provide the employee achoice of devices which had been formerly unavailable or limited by the business, such as an iPad,iPhone or Android device. Some employees would like to carry a single device for work andpersonal use rather than two functionally equivalent devices. Based on Gartner inquiries with earlyadopters, employees’ satisfaction with their employer and with their IT department consistentlyimproves when BYOD programs are introduced. But this wave has only just begun, and attitudesmay change, as employers get more aggressive with the policy.
As per the research and advisory firm Gartner,
- By 2015, the number of employees using mobile applications in the workplace will double.
- By 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes.
“Bring your own device” (BYOD) has driven innovation for CIOs and the business by increasing the number of mobile application users in the workforce.
Pervasive mobile computing is normal in the workplace. In the first wave of mobile workforce enablement, mobile phones provided communication in the field. Next, mobile e-mail added asynchronous communications, limited file sharing, simple collaboration and basic workflow. High costs limited mobile penetration in the workforce.
The third wave of mobile workforce enablement will be the largest and most impactful: Mobile applications in all of their variety, for the entire population of workers, will be a game changer.
Higher rates of computing in the workforce have often led to dramatic productivity improvements and created great potential for innovation. Mobile computing accelerates that trend.
Another factor is the movement toward contract personnel, temporary and seasonal workers, co-employed workers, and other nontraditional relationships. Many of these workers consider themselves “free agents” in charge of their own technology solutions.
In short, technology has become democratized
BYOD has improved employee satisfaction, resulting in a favorable perception of CIOs and their organizations
There are many drivers for BYOD, most notably employee satisfaction. In data collected by Gartner, we have seen substantial improvement in the way the enterprise and its IT organization are perceived when BYOD is introduced. A CIO of a large petroleum company remarked “No matter how much we spend on the back office, our executives still tell us that letting them use their personal iPads is the best thing we’ve done for them in years.”
CIOs also use BYOD as a cost reduction and avoidance mechanism
While a well-managed BYOD program can also save money, other goals tend to eclipsecost savings. Workers with an essential need to use a mobile device in their business expect to becompensated for its use, just as companies typically reimburse for the incremental cost of mileageand travel expenses that are incurred in the course of business. But unlike mileage, there arecurrently no officially settled-upon rates that all companies follow for device usage. Today, roughly one half of BYOD programs provide a partial reimbursement, typically for the service plan only,while less than 2 percent of companies pay the full cost of a personal device — whether it is a smartphone, tablet or PC. The remainder does not subsidize.
Even after putting all these costs together, there are significant savings that can be realized but the key is to have a well-managed BYOD program.
What the future holds?
BYOD is at the forefront of the new way of working, and is really about bring your own workplace. Since the consumer devices being acquired by individuals have not been designed from the top down to securely fit into the enterprise computing architecture, IT will be faced with an assortment of issues.
Different classes of tools are rapidly evolving to help manage the different aspects of the mobile and BYOD phenomena, including app stores, mobile device management and mobile application management. Each of the approaches has a valuable fit for certain business needs and circumstances.
Beyond what can be addressed in the short term, enterprises will need to recognize the value of mobile and BYOD and establish an integrated and holistic approach to enterprise mobile management. Well beyond managing devices business priorities will include:
- Authenticate and manage user identity
- Control the devices
- Manage the apps
- Protect enterprise data
- Monitor the network
- Optimize performance of the systems
- Administer inventories and expenses
- Oversee a workplace with users as the perimeter
We are likely to see highly successful BYOD programs in the coming years. Many businesses will expand beyond smartphones and tablets and embrace BYOD for PCs. The rise of Apple devices in the enterprise IT, convertibles and other form factors will put new pressure on the PC program, because many of these devices carry a premium and are unlikely to be quickly embraced by IT for its users — even as they become popular in the market. Beyond PCs, it is likely that users will discover new uses for emerging devices not initially understood by IT planners, much like we saw with the iPad. For more adaptive organizations, “try it and learn from it” will be the new approach to testing the applicability of new devices to the business.
It won’t stop with BYO PC. “Bring your own IT” is on the horizon. Once these new devices are in the mix, employees will be bringing their own applications, collaboration systems and even social networks into business.
Despite the opportunities, we should expect developments that will force some companies to move more conservatively. We are highly likely to see reports of significant data leakage through employee-owned devices. Employees and unions will be increasingly concerned about the implications of having access all the time, anywhere — does this mean the employee is expected to be on call at all times? They will also raise the issue of employee privacy as personal data and even individual location could be visible to employers. As employers increasingly attempt to get more workers into the BYOD program, employers may see it as a barefaced move to cut costs at the employee’s expense. The hidden costs of shifting from efficient IT support to messier user selfsupport may lead some to question the savings. The issue will remain at the forefront for IT planners for some time.
In 2014, BYOD program will be dictated less by convenience and more by concern of security. In the past Snowden era (NSA Leak in United States) concerns are highlighted on the current practice of using portable digital devices for sensitive documents; it has become increasingly common, in fact, to keep documents on hand placing them at risk of loss on mobile or portable devices that might not ensure the required security.
It is impossible to think to revert to older technologies, but there is a need for better document management and flexible security measures that can work well with the new mobile and cloud platforms. To add to the complexity, there are a plethora of BYOD security tools e.g. Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Access Management (MAM) etc. and that places a lot of onus on CIO and IT departments to design the security in such a manner that it is non intrusive, doesn’t hamper user convenience but at the same time managed elevated risks.
By Anurag Rai, vice president, Consulting & Advisory Service, Ilantus