Embracing BYOD

2/9/2013 9:07:24 AM

Looking past the complexities to view the benefits

For reasons entirely understand­able, there's a tendency for compa­nies to focus the majority of their attention on the complexities, hur­dles, and obstacles they must sur­mount in order to implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy with­in their workplaces. What often gets lost in such discussions concerning a company enabling its employees to bring their consumer mobile de­vices into the office are the various ways that BYOD will actually benefit the company.

The following highlights some of the ways in which adopting a BYOD policy can prove advantageous to your company and its IT department.

Embracing BYOD

Benefits of BYOD

One reason that complexities tend to eclipse potential benefits in BYOD policy making discussions is sim­ply that BYOD remains a relatively new phenomenon industry wide. Christian Kane, analyst for enterprise mobility, infrastructure and opera­tions, at Forrester Research (, says because BYOD is­sues are difficult in nature, as well as still evolving, "it's understandable complexities have overshadowed the benefits to date." Kane, however, believes this situation will change as "people get more comfortable and educated on BYOD and the various technologies involved evolve."

The bottom line, he says, is that "BYOD is happening, and so I think the real heart of the conversa­tions are twofold: First, how do we do this as responsibly as possible, and second, how do we maximize the benefits?"

Another reason that benefits tend to fall by the side is that there's no certainty that many will even come to fruition. For example, the company saving money is a possi­bility after it introduces BYOD, but cost savings require other mobile enablement-focused investments, such as investments in mobile ap­plications, Kane says.

Rob Enderle, president and prin­cipal analyst of Enderle Group (, meanwhile, says a benefit of BYOD is that it enables users to "choose the tools that they feel will best work for them and opens up avenues of productivity in locations where traditional PCs wouldn't work." Further, BYOD of­fers the benefit of making workers more responsive and more mobile.

The BYOD - IT dynamic

Among the gains of implementing BYOD, some those are frequently glossed over or not addressed at all are those related to the IT depart­ment, the unit typically charged with tackling a lion's share of BYOD- related tasks before and after im­plementation. As Enderle says, discussions concerning a company embracing BYOD can "put IT and users at cross purposes." Embracing BYOD, however, can result in "less aggravation between IT and users, and users who take far better care of their personal productivity hard­ware," he says.

Kane considers the most impor­tant benefit regarding embracing BYOD to be the transformation it can cause as IT becomes more fo­cused on people rather than on de­vices. "BYOD programs will make it much easier to start thinking about the IT organization as a service provider/integrator," he says. While many concerns related to BYOD are still under consideration, Kane says, one of the most interesting issues is that BYOD "re­ally forces IT to stop being device-centric in their support philosophy and start being much more user/ application centric. The device shouldn't be the primary factor here; it's about helping people get their jobs done."

Overall, the benefits of adopt­ing BYOD are "mostly focused on IT not wasting time on fighting this evolution and instead focus­ing on enabling it," Kane says. For example, BYOD can lead IT to stop focusing on device 'break/ fix' issues and letting someone else address such problems so that it can instead use "that energy to figure out exactly which apps and data the users need to access on these devices."

Financial benefits

Arguably, finances is one area where benefits get their fair share of the limelight in BYOD discussions. For many companies, a major mo­tivator for even considering BYOD is the notion that doing so can save money. The idea here is that cost sav­ings can derive from fewer device purchases, reduced device usage charges, and fewer lost and damaged mobile devices due to employees using their own. Elsewhere, Enderle says, benefits include "a reduction, or elimination, of capital expense for related personal computers, less desktop service costs (picked up by the retailers, carriers, or other em­ployees), and the potential for lower software licensing costs (depending on what is used)."

Another primary cost-related ben­efit is that employees armed with their own devices will be more pro­ductive. Some BYOD experts, how­ever, have noted there's been a shift in thinking among companies on this point, as user satisfaction and device enablement are taking precedence over saving money.

The concept of bring your own device BYOD is a growing trend for business IT.

The concept of bring your own device BYOD is a growing trend for business IT.

Kane says the problem with asso­ciating financial benefits with BYOD is that many companies haven't "re­ally defined what a BYOD program actually means and often confuse mobile enablement of the work­force with BYOD." Essentially, he says, because so many firms are attempting to embrace new devices, add mobile applications, and support new platforms while also creating a BYOD program, the costs of all these entities often are lumped together. Mobile enablement, Kane adds, re­quires a significant investment (mobile device and application management tools, internal app stores, mobile apps, etc.) because such enablement "really means trans­forming your business."

BYOD can result in cost savings, but Kane recommends thinking of it as "cost/resource redistribution." He adds, "Let IT focus on more im­portant things and invest that money which would have been spent on de­vices and device support on apps and app support."

Recruiting & Reputation

A related benefit that can pay considerable dividends long-term is the positive influence adopting a BYOD policy can have on the company's reputation and ability to recruit modern, tech-savvy employees. BYOD, Enderle says, "can make the firm appear more cutting-edge" and the company's employees "more knowledge­able about events that happen after hours or while they would typically otherwise be discon­nected." BYOD can also help a company appear more employee-friendly, as well as make it "easier to get top talent particularly out of school," he says. Of all the gains a company can realize in adopting BYOD, Enderle considers the "ability to attract better em­ployees" as having the greatest overall measurable impact.

Kane says younger and new workers entering a company just expect that they can use their con­sumer devices. They aren't asking if the practice is allowed, he says, "they're just doing it." The same can be said "for employees from all age groups really, but it defi­nitely can give a company the per­ception of being progressive and in tune with their employees, cus­tomers, and partners," he says. Because BYOD is such new territory and many companies are struggling with it, BYOD can also indicate to those outside the company that "the company doesn't think of business and technology as two dif­ferent things, but they need to be one to enable success," Kane says.

When benefits aren’t enough

As happens with the introduc­tion of any new initiative, BYOD offers potential short- and long-term benefits. It's possible, for example, a company will quickly see happier employees after intro­ducing BYOD. "The actual pro­ductivity benefits and service-cost reductions take a while to work through the system," Enderle says. Kane says part of realizing long-­term benefits is mental, while another part is "aligning IT with business objectives."

For some, potential gains from BYOD don't outweigh the var­ious complexities involved with constructing, implementing, and maintaining a BYOD policy. One example where this can be true, Enderle says, involves the security of mobile devices, as mobile de­vices in general "aren't particularly secure." Thus, in industries where security is a high concern, BYOD "may represent an unacceptable risk," he says.

Similarly, Kane says for heavily regulated firms BYOD can be ex­tremely challenging, as regulations and legal challenges can often in­hibit the program. "The real heart of the BYOD program," he says, "is being able to identify who this is appropriate for and who it isn't in the same way that companies need to really look and see who a tablet might be appropriate for and who won't realize benefits from it."

IT faces BYOD Concept with new policies

Many businesses are facing the challenge of the consumerization of IT, especially as more and more workers bring their personal devices into the workplace. A 2012 IDC report revealed that numerous organizations are planning to construct BYOD (bring your own device) policies through the end of 2013. Specifi­cally in Australia and New Zealand, IDC found that nearly half of all businesses reviewed do not currently have a BYOD plan in place, but CIOs and IT managers are feeling the pressure to adapt. The following breaks down the BYOD plan deployment among CIOs and decision makers in that region:

The following breaks down the BYOD plan deployment among CIOs and decision makers in that region

The following breaks down the BYOD plan deployment among CIOs and decision makers in that region

Report says wireless is key to mobile success

A 2012 iPass survey of 1,689 mobile workers located primarily in North America (50%) and Europe (33%) found that frequently traveling and “al­ways on” workers are increasingly psychologically attached to their mobile devices, BYOD (bring your own device) policies are showing up in more and more organizations, and most feel that work­ing remotely is a necessity (62%) or even a right (7%). Here are some additional findings.

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