The phenomenon we refer to as the “consumerization of IT” means that consumers are driving and adopting technology at a faster rate than the enterprise. This is a break from the past, when the enterprise often drove technology developments.
People have changed their lives using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and cloud services for storing and sharing photos and social networking. They want to bring the technologies that have transformed their personal lives to work. One outcome of this trend has been employees rebelling against the traditional “one size fits all” approach to corporate mobile devices. As personal smartphones and tablets grow more powerful and feature-rich, it’s only natural that people want to take their own devices to work. Why should they limit themselves to one or two business-sanctioned phones, when they can choose from an array of consumer devices?
Known as the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend (I consider it to be a consequence driven by the broader “consumerization of IT”), this phenomenon presents both challenges and opportunities for companies. If you’ve decided to implement a BYOD policy, below is a list of do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of opportunities – and avoid potential pitfalls.
1. DO explain the benefits of BYOD to your executive team. It’s always useful to find a champion for BYOD within your company’s leadership. Take the time to outline the cost savings associated with allowing employees to buy and use their own devices. Step your executives through any concerns they may have about security. Describe why it’s important to mobilize employees.
2. DON’T ignore the risks. BYOD does not equal AYFR (Abandoning Your Fiscal Responsibility!). Your company’s data needs to be protected – whether or not employees bring their own devices to work. If an employee loses a corporate smartphone, you’ve likely established a way to remotely wipe data from that device. Make sure you put the same safeguards in place for personal devices to help avoid leaking sensitive information.
3. DO consider mobile device management, mobile application management and BYOD solutions. With choice and flexibility, BYOD policies also invite a variety of mobile operating systems, all of which behave differently, into your workplace. Mobile device management, mobile application management and specific BYOD solutions all deliver features that can help IT departments oversee employee-owned devices. Look into each and find out which service best suits your needs.
4. DON’T limit BYOD to employees that are already mobile. One of the great advantages of a BYOD initiative is that it allows your company to mobilize more workers than ever before. Try to steer clear of setting requirements based on an employee’s level or experience. If someone’s job performance can improve from mobile access, do what you can to enable him or her.
Business is going mobile, one way or another. BYOD has the potential to get your employees up and running with productivity-enhancing mobile apps in a shorter timeframe, but some companies still prefer the approach of rolling out corporate devices. Both can be appropriate, depending on the employee group and the functions that they are performing. As an example, it makes sense for a highly technical group with a focused function, such as oil and gas industry technicians working in challenging environmental and safety conditions, to use a corporate-issued specialized rugged mobile device.