Employees and businesses are pushing for more robust mobile workforce solutions today, and IT departments have been working to accommodate these requests. As more businesses embrace the use of mobile technology, they need to decide whether to allow employees to use personal devices for work purposes instead of company-issued devices. Bring your own device (BYOD) programs have evolved as both employees and companies continue to see the advantages.
When companies didn’t want to bear the expense of issuing a mobile phone for every employee who could use one, they allowed employees to access their email and other applications with their personal devices. With the advent of smartphones, the applications for business use have grown exponentially. BlackBerryTM used to be the go-to for mobile business applications but now they are struggling to compete with Apple’s iPhone® as well as AndroidTM and a host of other Windows-based smartphones.
According to a 2012 Forrester Research survey of IT decision makers, nearly 70 percent of North American and European enterprises either have or are interested in having a BYO smartphone program, and 34 percent are for a BYO PC program, too. For enterprises and their IT departments, BYOD programs require thoughtful consideration.
While they can come with benefits like equipment cost-savings, productivity gains, employee satisfaction, and increased mobility, there are plenty of challenges, too. Challenges that IT departments will need to consider include:
These issues can affect multiple departments and stakeholders and therefore should all be part of the discussion when planning for a BYOD program begins. When you bring your team together, consider these topics of discussion. Be sure to determine who will be responsible for research and management:
Both mobile data management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) systems can help you support, deploy, and monitor the data and applications in your program. These systems allow administrators to oversee mobile devices and help ensure that the systems remain in peak performance. Your management systems should include tools such as file synchronization, data security, and technical support.
Creating a written policy that employees are required to understand, comply with, and sign should be a part of any BYOD plan. Both business and employee liabilities also need to be clearly spelled out so that both parties understand what is required of each other. For a BYOD program to work, administrators need to enforce the policy and review it with their employees on a periodic basis.
Before deciding to support a BYOD program, you will want to test the equipment and operating system you are looking to support to see how it affects your other assets, employees, and cost centers. Failing to test equipment compatibility can result in higher costs in the long run and potentially ruin your system momentarily.
Determine in advance your requirements for registration of devices, encryption, SSL certification, remote device wiping, password storage, antivirus software, and so on. Look at desktop virtualization systems that can keep applications and data stored in a central location instead of on employee devices.
Taking advantage of the expertise of vendors who are well versed in the integration of external devices with your current IT infrastructure can save you a lot of headaches. Decide which companies you want to have a conversation with regarding you BYOD program. See if any of these vendors have a pilot/demo program or cash studies that show how their integration worked for similar centers. Doing your research beforehand will narrow down your choices and help find the best fit.
This list is just a starting point but should give you a few ideas on where to start. Doing a little research first and developing a clearly defined plan can help both your business and employees realize the advantages of a BYOD program.