Beyond the BYOD hype

Beyond the BYOD hype

The approach to allowing people to use mobile technology at the workplace is not as complex or problematical as often 'talked up'.

If, like me, the BYOD “hype” leaves you feeling bemused and you are responsible for “making it happen”, please read on. As someone, who has “been there” as a CIO, as a User and as a software vendor, this article is made up of insights that may resonate with the early adopters. I’d like to think this might help others considering a similar path. As a CIO, here’s what we thought we were business casing when implementing a new wi-fi some two years ago:

• Clients want to bring in their tablets (mainly iPads), we wanted to “stay in the forefront”.

• Staff travelling between offices needed to use their business laptops, we wanted to avoid buying heavy or expensive laptops that sat in cupboards at home most of the time.

• Instead of turning a blind-eye to some of the skunk-works that were happening at the time, we wanted to harness the enthusiasm and reduce the business risks of data loss.

Here’s what we experienced:

• Within a short period with less than 25 (privately owned) iPads, and a handful of smartphones were logged on daily with very little IT impact, and only a few hours help from our IT providers. There was no deluge for support. A setup email with digital certificates and revised, signed Acceptable Use Policy was sufficient in most cases.

• In a very WAN-dependent Citrix world, providing video on demand is expensive. Users turned their Tablets into a content-rich second Terminal.

• Daily printed research materials were being left unread. This saved pay-per copy print, and generally reduced printing large documents in favour of reading on screen.

• People read more research briefs and news far wider than before. This is crucial in the adviser industry.

• People started multi-tasking at morning conference calls (even more than the usual Blackberry addicts).

• Some took their tablets on holiday (sad, but true).

• Most iPad users were “working” 30-plus more minutes a day, though they did not perceive it as such.

When I moved from CIO to programme consultant on a large transformation programme, I observed the same mobility challenges – and more. This particular programme involved a team in New Zealand and Australia, with users having corporate email, Office and Dropbox as the “tools of choice”.

This is what BYOD meant to us in the new setting:

• The real job started within 30 mins of arriving, no need for lots of IT requests.

• Little or no Program IT costs. We used our own kit, an existing printer/scanner and no wiring.

• We moved offices and desks a few times in less than 10 minutes, and worked across the Tasman.

• Paperless office, apart from proof reading presentations/project plans.

• We had better IT availability than the rest of the organisation.

So having been through the real world of BYOD deployments, here are some of insights I would like to pass on:

1. 80/20. With very little technical work, other than a powerful, secure Wifi, you can deliver Internet and email access to staff, contractors, clients, and visitors. Deliver this first, you will be pleasantly surprised just how far this delivers at low risk.

2. Update your Acceptable Use and Social Media policies. This should impart “education” to your users as its prime focus, not fear.

3. Think about your own staff, corporately owned equipment (and processes) differently to “public” and home-supplied devices. If staff (and contractors) lose something, ie if they misuse the “additional facilities we offer”, they will accept the training/acceptable use policies they need to sign up to. Making this split is fundamental to ensuring your team deliver a new service without “constant fear” of what “might” happen. New corporate Wifi can track usage at the user/application level, if required.

4. Using a home device to run a business process will come, but when? You can now go to restaurants that place your orders on an iPad and NZ police have just bought thousands of iPads. In my experience though, if this is part of the work and employee needs to do their job, then the business will normally fund and secure the device. The business case is just the same as it was for laptops five years ago.

5. Capacity. Whatever volume of users you plan for, double it, then double it again. Tablets and smartphones will “chew up” every bit of Wifi/WLAN capacity they can see and most early adopters have two devices. So a Wifi which controls the volume and priority of service they get (QOS or Quality of service) is a “must” if you want to protect other users (especially roaming VOIP users).

6. You can expect “phone envy” to take hold, not just for the latest iPhone or Galaxy S. As CIO, we explored “offloading” the mobile voice and data contract to the staff in return for a monthly payment. This would have saved thousands monthly, by controlling overseas call costs and made staff responsible for their device choices in a tax-efficient manner. The incumbent mobile provider responded well with shared data plans and a short list of “approved phones”. Is the corporately owned phone plan becoming obsolete?

7. New disaster recovery options. Wireless access to internet and email is a “must” to re-establish communications and secure your brand. A pre-configured WLAN left in a strategic location (at home with the CEO/CIO or HR Co-ordinator or in the DR site) is critical to the Company recovery, arguably more so than the “business critical” systems in the first day or so of a loss critical office space? The experience from Christchurch was that the IT systems were still working in a datacentre, you just could not get into the office.

8. Embrace early adopters. Keeping abreast of the latest workplace Apps amongst highly educated early adopters was a challenge. However the impact these people had on their peers was wonderful to watch. They would try things and only the lasting Apps won through. Viral works commercially as well as socially. Harvesting this early, is key (before you use and Enterprise Apps Store).

Simon Shears, MBA, is an ex-CIO and IT/management consultant. He advises clients in CRM, mobility, enterprise applications procurement and business development.

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