Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Consumerization of Mobile and IT

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Best Practices for BYOD Policies

What is BYOD, and should this concern your company?

Ever since consumers (including employees in your company) started coveting the iPhone, there has been an increasing demand from enterprise users to be able to choose their own smartphones, and now tablets, and even desktops and laptops. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, 69% of companies currently do not allow employees to use their own devices, but that number is expected to drop to 37% within 12 to 18 months. On the other hand, a survey from October 2010 showed that “81% of employees admit to using their devices to access their employer’s network without their employer’s knowledge or permission—and 58 % do so every single day.”

Increasingly, the reality is that IT can no longer determine corporate standards for all devices and applications. This is a massive shift in the way that IT is managed; from every detail decided on and controlled by the company, to the company’s IT department being forced to adapt to whatever its users decide on.

In addition to the changes in demands from existing corporate users, there is now an entire class of users that may not have had a corporate device in the past, but now want to access company data on their own devices. Forrester Research calls these “mobile wannabes.” Additionally, Forrester classifies users who buy their own devices and choose whatever solutions to get their work done as “mobile mavericks.”

These trends raise many questions around policies and best practices. How much variety of choice should users have? How much control should IT have? How does the company ensure that security policies are being followed? How can IT best support these users? Who pays for the device, and the carrier bill?

Divide mobile users into categories

Users should be categorized according to their functions and how important mobility is to their work. Then, different policies may apply to these very different categories.

For example, field workers such as salespeople and service technicians, who absolutely require mobile devices in order to perform their work efficiently, might have the highest level of support from IT, and the devices are probably already paid for by the company. A Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, a client of Avema’s, considers their salespeople to be as important as their top executives in terms of IT support, since they drive the company’s sales. They reason that it’s well worth paying for what they call “white glove service” to ensure that salespeople can maximize their time and focus, ultimately resulting in more sales, instead of futzing around with technology, waiting on hold with carriers, and other time-draining tasks.

On the other hand, an accounting clerk who rarely leaves the office might benefit from being able to use his iPhone to access email occasionally, but it would be hard for a company to justify the cost for this relatively minor value. There is certainly a benefit to the company in terms of employee morale and engagement, and a small increase in productivity, however, it’s nowhere near as much as the value derived from enabling salespeople to spend more time on sales.

The questions around mobile policies can be better addressed once you’ve determined the categories that your users should be grouped into. 

More on BYOD:

BYOD Security Policies

Who Pays for Mobile Expenses With Your BYOD Program?


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