Things you should ask before embarking on a BYOD programme

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been a key topic of conversation within IT in recent years; whether to embrace it or restrict the opportunities and challenges it imposes. The BYO trend appears to be driven out of the American and Far Eastern markets, rather than the UK and Europe, but it is still a prevalent topic of conversation.

Before you decide if, or when, consider the following questions:

 Why?

  • Why are you looking to adopt BYOD?
  • Do you expect to make cost savings by avoiding the costs of providing and supporting a fleet of devices, be they laptops, tablets or smartphones?
  • Are you trying to enhance user satisfaction by allowing users to choose the device?
  • Are you trying to support and enable your users to manage their personal and work lives and content from a single platform and consolidate the IT devices they need to carry

 What?

  • Which devices are you going to enable for BYOD?

From a European perspective the majority of BYOD usage has been in the tablet and smartphone area, where employees have sought to use personal devices that are perhaps more feature rich and intuitive, or simply just have more brand appeal. However this has mostly been additive to existing corporate devices, so provides a convenience factor for users, but actually places further burden on the IT department in terms of another service to operate and support.

 Who?

  • Who is responsible in a BYOD scenario?
  • By adopting BYOD are you expecting (or demanding?) your employees to bear the cost of purchasing a device that is suitable for work?
  • How are you going to decide what is or isn’t suitable?
  • Are you going to contribute to the cost borne by the employees by providing some sort of allowance or discounted device catalogue to purchase from?
  • Do you expect this policy to apply to all users or will it only apply to certain areas of the business?

This area, particularly around funding of the devices has always been a key topic in this conversation, particularly in Europe due to both tax and cultural factors, quite markedly different to our understanding of (particularly) the US market

 When

  • When the device fails who is responsible? The user or the company?
  • How have you defined the scope of your expectations around ultimately who is responsible for the support and maintenance of the devices that are in use?

Typically with a COPE provisioning approach, the organisation will offer a robust support model, and while the user may incur some down time in the event of a device failure, loss or theft, established processes will ensure that spare equipment is available or that the warranty and support mechanisms suit the business requirements.

In a BYOD world, how does this work? Is the user also expected to ensure they have a warranty arrangement in place, or at least a contingency plan for the eventuality?

This is where BYOD starts to get complicated as every unproductive worker hurts the organisation. Where we’ve seen BYOD used, often the organisation will provide the back-stop of support by having spare or loan devices available for exactly this eventuality.

 How?

  • How are you going to facilitate the BYOD initiative?

This ultimately depends on the device platforms that are in scope for your BYOD programme. Most users will not want their device subject to the management and monitoring systems that would be used for COPE devices.

  • In order for BYOD to be effective, the key question is how you are going to deliver Applications and Data to the endpoint?

This is a key reason why we’ve not seen massive uptake in BYOD for true productivity devices, due to the complexities of delivering key productivity and LoB applications to unmanaged devices, and all the intricacies of licensing that ensue.

 

Typical approaches for laptop devices have until now been solutions such as Application or Desktop Virtualisation, overlaying the corporate services to the private device, but keeping a demarcation point for support and security. From a mobile device perspective, this is where we’ve seen the evolution to EMM platforms and containerisation to provide a corporate “bubble” on a device which is separate from the private content

This question is key, as simply plugging your private device into the corporate network isn’t going to work, but facilitating BYOD through the kinds of solutions above can introduce additional platform costs and complexity.

Cutting through all of the news and talk about BYOD, just rolling back to five simple questions will reveal that this certainly is no panacea. For everyone’s benefit, it’s wise to really consider what you’re trying to achieve from a BYOD initiative at the outset.

To discover more read: COPE-ing with BYOD

About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Digital Workplace @PSBray

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