BYO on the ICT menu

What companies need to do when offering an employee-owned notebook programme.

A number of enterprises now have policies around the use of private notebooks for work purposes, reports Gartner. The analyst firm says the number of inquiries from its clients on the ‘Bring Your Own Computer’ (BYOC) programme has grown significantly in the past year.

Benefits for the companies include freedom from managing non-strategic assets so IT staff can focus on business projects; providing a more attractive workplace for employees, especially Gen Y staff; and increased user productivity, says Gartner in a recent report.

Phil Dean-Jones, director of ANZ field sales for Citrix Systems, says BYOC or BYOPC programmes are gaining momentum, because a lot of users are looking to access information from their own devices.

“Increasingly, the users in these organisations are digital natives, who have never known an unconnected world,” says Dean-Jones. “They have grown up with the internet and are used to instant access to information, instant collaboration immediate communications from increasingly sophisticated devices.”

One of the real drivers for the programme is the amount of capital tied up in devices, says Dean-Jones.

In a large organisation that undergoes three-year replacement cycles, there is a massive amount of cost literally tied up in desktop hardware. BYOC takes the onus of responsibility of owning and managing the physical device away from the corporation and puts it back in the hands of the user.

At Citrix, which has implemented a BYOPC programme, he says one of the requirements for those taking part is a three-year premium maintenance services contract that they have to have for the device. This insures the device can get fixed quickly or replaced so they can continue working.

At the same time, organisations wanting to employ this programme need to look at an enablement strategy for partners and contractors coming on site with their own computer. “The strategy allows them to become productive from day one without having to issue them an asset,” says Dean-Jones.

Gartner’s checklist for an organisation planning on a BYOC programme includes:

• Providing robust, scalable and secure access to corporate data.

• Isolating enterprise digital assets.

• Determining PC hardware, software and bandwidth requirements.

• Clarifying software licence terms and conditions.

• Having a third-party maintenance and support option that can be provided by value added resellers or dedicated support organisations.

• Defining the scope of IT support responsibilities.

• Determining financial ramifications. Providing employees with a stipend will help ensure they will buy PCs that meet minimum requirements.

• Ensuring there are no ‘counter-indicators’. Gartner says the programme may not be appropriate in some workplaces like high--security environments such as military installations and research facilities that need to protect costly intellectual property.

• Identifying workers who will support and benefit from the programme. Technically astute IT workers or those already using their own and in many cases unsanctioned PCs and notebooks, would be the ideal participants in a pilot programme, says Gartner.

• Developing appropriate policies jointly by IT, HR, finance and legal departments.

• Developing a communications plan. The information on the programme should be available on the website. Consider having users sign an annual letter of understanding and compliance regarding the employee-owned notebook programme, Gartner suggests.