The BYOD trend has a lot of IT departments nervous. Their concerns can be summed-up in two questions: “How can we retain control of personal devices that interact with company machines and data and maintain security?” and “From an operational point of view, how do we manage so many devices of all different models and types?”
Yet these concerns, whilst wholly legitimate, should not prove to be barriers to the introduction of a BYOD programme. With the right framework (a clearly-written policy and a good management platform) in place, BYOD can realise a number of benefits for a business.
1) Empowering Employees
As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our personal lives, we increasingly see continual, mobile access as a basic right. We now expect to be able to choose from a vast array of personal technology to suit our unique needs and to connect them wirelessly to the internet everywhere and anywhere.
By allowing employees to bring their own devices to work, a business is affording them the same choice they have come to expect in their personal lives. They get to use the devices, including both hardware and software, of their choice and have the flexibility to work anywhere, anyway.
However, it is not just the satisfaction of current employees (and the corresponding higher retention rates) that will be impacted. A BYOD programme also has the potential to attract new talent. According to Cisco’s 2011 “Connected World Technology Report,” for one third of the 2,800 US students surveyed, device flexibility, work mobility, and access to social media were more important than salary.
As the tech-savvy ‘Millennials’ enter the workforce, many will seek positions that allow more freedom in how they work. By instituting a BYOD policy and enabling access to corporate systems via a cloud interface, businesses can capitalise on these desires and attract the best and brightest of the next generation.
2) Boosting Productivity
Today most individuals are highly adept at using their personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops outside of work, and these skills translate when working in a BYOD-friendly environment.
With their own device, employees can engage with one another more quickly even when away from their desks. Faster internal communication has the potential to allow a business to run more efficiently with queries answered and action points agreed speedily.
Yet it is not only internal communication which can be boosted by BYOD, customer or client engagement can also be dramatically improved from such a policy. Creating meaningful connections with customers is an important part of many (if not most) jobs. In an age when we are all increasingly connected, and instant information is only a click of a button away, customers have come to expect to engage with organisations easily and anticipate quick responses.
Whether a customer is using an organisation’s app, searching for a product or service quote, or even filing a complaint, the process should be uncomplicated and positively engage the end-user. The consumerisation of IT can aid the creation and development of positive customer relationships. By allowing workers to go mobile, companies can ensure customers will get help in a timely manner even if the appropriate contact is not at the office. Gone are the days of being tied to the desk—and with them, employees losing connection with customer and co-workers when in the field.
A great example of this is Kraft Foods, which began providing employees with their own iPhones in 2008. Nearly half of all workers had their own by early 2009 and were actively encouraged to use the devices to expand the value they could bring to customers. This directly led to the development of the company’s innovative phone app, which offers customers recipes, cooking tutorials, and store locator tools. Without embracing consumerisation, the company would have been slower to develop this fantastic tool, if at all.
3) Curing IT Headaches
With a sound framework in place, BYOD can prove to be the soothing balm, rather than the cause, of a number of IT headaches in the long-run.
Equipping employees with self-supported devices that they are confident and skilled at using frees up time for IT departments by limiting the need to act as a help-desk and respond to basic employee queries.
Additionally, by using applications such as Smartsheet, Dropbox, and Google Docs, employees have the ability to complete many projects without the help of the IT department. New applications are continually being launched, meaning it is likely a solution exists for any business task. IT staff can therefore focus more time and resources on proactive, strategic tasks.
Welcome Change. Join the BYOD Revolution.
BYOD is already here, and (if the manufacturers of consumer technology have their way) it is a trend that is here to stay. Employees are already doing it, and will continue to do so—whether their company has given outright permission or not.
So whilst some companies may be inclined to prohibit the use of personal devices, sometimes at the behest of nervous IT departments, the sheer prevalence of these devices means it is better to provide an eco-system that allows personal devices to be used safely and securely within the workplace.
But BYOD is more than just a necessity. It is rapidly emerging as a proactive, forward-looking route to giving employees the freedom and choice they want, boosting their productivity, whilst releasing IT departments from significant financial and management headaches.