The BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) trend seems unstoppable, especially when it comes to mobile devices. According to IDC, employee-owned smartphones will represent more than half (56 percent) of the business smartphones shipped in 2013. Enterprises and government entities are scrambling to adapt to this reality, often not realising the full impact of employee purchased technology in the workforce. Technology is now part of a company’s image and brand and this is shaping the BYO question for the CIO. Are we going to resist the BYO trend and insist on company-provided devices or will we embrace the shift and empower staff to use their preferred technology?
Here are the main issues when considering a BYO mobile strategy:
The starting point of a good BYO program is a balanced mobile policy which represents the interests of IT, Finance, HR and the employee. At a minimum, the policy should define the user profiles, security settings, hardware support, recommended apps and spend allowances. When done properly this policy defines the rules of engagement between the employee and the company and is able to stand the test of time and inevitable changes in technology.
If employee-owned devices are connected to the company’s email, wireless or storage infrastructure or other business applications, they must be secured and managed like other devices on the company network. This was taken for granted in the good old days of company-owned BlackBerry devices but with today’s rapid influx of Apple and Android devices to the work space, IT needs to manage these devices and secure the information passing through them. The good news is that MDM (Mobile Device Management) technology is rapidly maturing allowing IT to monitor mobile devices like any other end-point on the company network and enforce appropriate security policies.
Smart phones and tablets are increasingly being purchased by employees on the weekend and brought to work on Monday - with an expectation that the IT service desk can assist with configuration, connectivity and support.
Unless the service desk is constantly investing in skills to support the full range of mobile devices, there will be a growing mismatch between user expectations and service. On the other hand abdicating support to the user may compromise productivity so it is important to provide enough hardware support to keep BYO users connected during work hours, including the ability to borrow a loan device when required.
Corporate plan or personal plan?
BYOD implies that employees purchase their own hardware, reducing the employer’s CAPEX. But does it also mean the mobile plan should also be purchased by the employee?
Not if you want bring your OPEX down as well. Opting for a corporate plan for BYO devices gives you a number of advantages: You can negotiate cheaper mobile rate plans without the traditional hardware subsidies factored in, still pay corporate rates rather than consumer rates, have free calling between employees and integration with landlines. None of these benefits are available to employees on a personal plan.
However, there is a critical need for improved visibility of mobile costs by the users, reimbursement of personal usage and improved analysis and management reporting.
Meet us half way
With a balanced mobile policy, MDM technology, hardware support and cost control, the CIO is empowered to answer the BYO question and say “Yes, meet us half way”.
“You can use your own device for work as long as you comply with the policy and we can manage your device on the network."
And by choosing the right tools or partners for device management, mobile service desk and expense management, the CIO has the full visibility of policy compliance, security, productivity and total cost of ownership.
The author is the founder and CEO of Mobile Mentor, a Trans-Tasman provider of mobile management services for enterprise and government.
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