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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

There has been an awful lot of hype around the potential benefits of BYOD in the last 5 years or more. Claims of reduced cost, increased productivity and increases in employee engagement abound. You’ll also find plenty of people claiming exactly the opposite; that it increases support costs and, most importantly, exposes an organisation to unnecessary security.

So, what is the reality of BYOD? What’s actually happening? And how is it being managed?

Previously, I talked you through a typical week in my working life.

As mentioned, none of my devices are company issued. That is mainly down to the fact I am a self- confessed gadget nerd. I’m very passionate about the tools I use to do the things I need to do in both my work and personal lives.

Like many out there, I’ll insist that I am more productive when I have my own device, but I don’t have a huge quantity of hard data to back that statement up.

Interestingly, 45% of millennials (people born 1980-2000) would rather take a lower paying job if they could keep using their own devices. This is surprising considering how the cost of living keeps rising. But it does speak clearly to the demands of individuals having to use familiar tools and technologies in all aspects of their life.

In my last entry, I wrote about the blurring of lines between personal and corporate worlds, and how work is, for many people, now a thing they do, rather than a place they go. Like most of us who travel a lot for work, I want to travel light and skip the baggage queues, so I don’t want to be carrying one device for work and another one for personal use.

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What I do want, however, is to be able to stay connected to the people who matter to me – my family, friends, colleagues and, of course, my boss. That means I need access to my email, Lync, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp all on the same device, and across multiple platforms – and this is just for communication.

I also need access to corporate systems to claim my expenses, book leave and make other service requests. In my case, this is through a collection of web applications, accessible through our corporate intranet via an Internet Explorer based browser. That means, that to support our corporate BYOD plan, our IT department has been required to provision virtual desktops to allow access to these applications from non- corporate devices. They also need to train users on using these, and provide self-help guides to support setup and usage.

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We’re not alone either, ZDNet recently reported that around 71% of companies changed at least one business process to adapt to BYOD. These processes include IT management, sales and marketing, human resources (HR) and customer services.

Furthermore, if BYOD is enabled within an organisation, it has been noted that users increasingly expect the ease of use and simplicity of experience they receive from the tools they use in their personal lives – File share, Instant Messaging services and application access.

So what does that mean for an IT department?

First and foremost, security for the vast majority of organisations. It is almost impossible to secure and manage a BYO device with the same tool sets IT has traditionally used to manage the corporate environment. Many organisations are wrestling with informal BYOD, both laptops and smart devices where devices exist within an organisation that are unmanaged and unrecognised.

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IT savvy employees today can often find ways around policy and technical restrictions to operate their devices in the shadows. It is this shift that is prompting many organisations to review the end-user platform and seek to offer a subtly different form of BYOD: Choose Your Own Device (CYOD.)

Stay tuned for the Part 2 of this BYOD series.

Dave

Dave is the next-generation of mobile worker and is on the journey to enabling work-life freedom for other next-gen...