It’s fair to say that technology has
evolved in such a way that most businesses and individuals can no
longer do without it, and in recent years, relatively new
technologies such as the cloud are helping to push the
comsumerisation of IT into becoming the norm.
This has led to an increasing trend
across enterprises to implement a Bring-Your-Own-Device scheme in
which the employee uses their personal devices to access the company
network. This means that there are also increasing concerns
surrounding security, especially when the cloud is also added to the
mix, although many of these concerns are unfounded, to some extent.
The cloud in particular tends to more
secure for smaller businesses than on site networks, as small
businesses tend not to have decent disaster recovery plans in place,
or robust enough backup procedures. On the other hand, cloud is often
based at a data centre, where all of the data is easily backed up and
in the event of hardware failure, it can be easily routed to another
part of the network.
That’s not to say that it’s the right
solution for all businesses though, just as BYOD schemes might not
be. Whatever the case, if you’re thinking about putting such a scheme
in place, it’s wise to look at options and reasons that you may want
Liaise with IT
you have an IT department, then they need to be in on it from the
planning stage right up to implementation. If you don’t and use an IT
support consultancy, then head to them first to seek advice.
The business case & ROI
Which devices you will allow
How the devices are used on a
How the devices will access the
How you are going to manage
What impact BYOD will have on
numerous benefits to the company, such as less need for capital
expenditure and better collaborative practices which in turn lead to
increased productivity and potentially, an increase in revenue.
Forrester Research state
that there are four key considerations when making a case for
implementing a BYOD scheme.
The company’s overall goals
When the BYOD scheme will impact
various business units
Which processes need to be
modified in order to accommodate BYOD
How long it will take to achieve
This means that in the first instance,
it’s necessary to look at justification on a financial level, paying
attention to all of the resources which may be necessary for the
scheme’s success. This means that in order to justify
the need for BYOD, the company will have to come up with a report
on the following:
every time a device is added you will have to create a new
connection to the network, so you will need to look at whether the
current network can support this.
Supported platforms: Apple
devices are popular and more secure than Android but the latter are
hugely popular choices for many on a personal level. You will need
to price in the monthly licensing costs for a mobile device
management (MDM) solution and possibly, some additional security
solutions to address the variety of supported devices.
Software licensing: As
well as MDM software, you will need to think about licensing for the
products that your employees might use, such as MS Office and other
applications as well as maintenance.
You will need to assess if you currently have the resources when it
comes to IT staff both internally and externally and if this will
need investment in order to support the scheme.
Security: This will
have to be assessed and solutions put in place to protect the
network and sensitive data.
Potential BYOD benefits
In order to prove ROI to the finance
department, you will need to look at exactly what implementing a BYOD
scheme can do for the business. It’s pretty much a proven model now,
so this shouldn’t be too difficult, but let’s look at a couple of
benefits that affect the majority of businesses.
Enhanced productivity: This
is the most widely reported benefit, as it’s been found that
employees that use mobile devices at work are better communicators,
as they can collaborate effectively and efficiently at any time,
from any place with a connection.
Employees are happier in their
work, which also increases productivity and they can connect quickly
with clients and colleagues, no matter where they are in the world,
in real time. This means that rather than sit around waiting for
documents to be couriered over, or email to come through, so
everything gets done that much quicker.
Less capital expenditure: This
isn’t always the case, but for the most part employees that use
their own devices won’t need access to high-end machines at work.
However, this is very much dependent on individual scenarios and the
size and location of the network (on-premise or in the cloud).
Increased revenue: Again,
this depends on the company, but let’s imagine a scenario where a
company has a sales team out on the road. Using his own device, a
salesman can close a deal there and then, without the need to go
back to the office to do the paperwork, enter it onto the system
etc., which in turn means that the sale is more likely to stick.
It also means that sales staff
can manage their own accounts and complete paperwork on the fly,
increasing their productivity substantially. This could lead to an
increase in revenue as the sales person increases the amount of
accounts they can manage.
Once you’ve looked at the ins and outs
of putting BYOD in place, you’ll also need to think about policies
and this is something that gives many a CIO a headache. Yes, they are
personal devices but they also connect to a business network so it’s
vital that employees know what they can and can’t do.
For example, an employee might enjoy
playing games on a device or social networking; however, you may not
want him to download apps that might compromise the security of the
network. This can be managed with the MDM, but it’s wise to ensure
that workers know what they can and can’t access when using the
device for work.
It’s a fine balance, as you want users
to be able to have an experience which isn’t too intrusive, but at
the same time, you have to consider security. Too intrusive an
experience and productivity will be affected, which then impacts the
business case, so if the solution is going to have a huge impact on
usability, then perhaps you need to reconsider.
Think about the use of corporate apps
in order to overcome this, such as file sharing apps that are
business grade rather than consumer, Dropbox being an ideal example
of this. However, putting sound policies in place should overcome
many of these concerns.
to Gartner, half of all employees will be using BYOD by 2017 and
it’s something that carries a strong case for improving many aspects
of a company. In fact, “[e]xpanding access and driving innovation
will ultimately be the legacy of the BYOD phenomenon,” said
Gartner’s David Willis.
“However, the business case for BYOD needs to be better
evaluated,” he continued. “Most leaders do not understand
the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong
business case. Like other elements of the Nexus of Forces (cloud,
mobile, social and information), mobile initiatives are often
exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal,
making IT planners uncomfortable. If you are offering BYOD, take
advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the
benefits it will bring to them and to the business.”
Bearing this in mind, perhaps you shouldn’t be asking yourself if
your company can afford BYOD and should be asking if it can’t.