Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — a term which refers to employees bringing their own mobile devices into the workplace for business purposes — is one of the hottest acronyms in business technology world today.
Companies are increasingly embracing the idea that employees want greater choice and flexibility in the devices they use.
In a recent CDW Canada survey of Canadian businesses, more than two thirds of respondents (67 per cent) said their company has or is working on a BYOD strategy.
With the freedom to use the devices most comfortable to them, employees can be more productive than ever, whether they are working in the office, on the road or at home. But this shift toward greater device diversity, better employee morale and building a more mobile workforce comes with a new set of challenges, especially when it comes to security, device management and user experience consistency.
In fact, the top concerns for organizations surveyed included securing corporate data and managing the incoming fleet of individually-owned mobile devices.
Here’s what you need to consider when implementing a BYOD strategy in your environment:
Determine needs – This decision regarding which devices to support should not be made by management alone. Different employees may require different device features for their day-to-day responsibilities, so getting together a wide cross-section of your organization’s employees or business leaders very early on during the project is advisable.
Launch a consolidated purchasing plan – Working with a solution provider to facilitate BYOD will let you maintain greater control of the devices being brought into your corporate environment without sacrificing employee choice. A solution provider can offer a great purchasing package that offers unlimited product choice and streamlines the process of getting devices into the hands of your employees.
Invest in MDM – Keeping tabs on one type of smart phone is relatively easy, but when you throw new mobile operating systems and tablets into the mix, device management can quickly become a nightmare. With a proper Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, businesses can keep track of the various mobile operating systems in their environment. These tools will also allow you to easily deactivate apps on the smart phones and tablets of ongoing employees.
Prepare the infrastructure – Working with a solution provider with a dedicated team that knows the hardware and software you have purchased in the past will help keep you on track from an IT infrastructure perspective. Far too many IT organizations are reacting to BYOD and jumping in without a plan that keeps their environment secure. Do you have a secure wireless network in place? Is your company’s intranet accessible on the mobile devices that are now flooding into your environment? A solution provider can help you answer these questions and more around supporting numerous operating systems and maintaining a native user experience.
Draft a new policy – While smart phones, tablets and laptops might not be new to your organization, BYOD almost certainly is. Communicating exactly how employees can use their devices when they’re interfacing with company-owned e-mail systems or corporate applications is a must. In addition to acceptable use considerations, a strong policy should also include where end-users can go for IT support and what should happen if a user violates the policy. If the BYOD program only extends to certain employees, the policy should also clearly spell out eligibility requirements. An acceptable use policy will also help you identify any privacy and legal terms employees should agree to before using their own devices on the job.
Don’t forget about legacy tech – Starting up a BYOD strategy will require your existing application delivery models to change. This might require some time upfront, but the work will save a lot of headaches down the road. Working with a solution provider can help you accomplish this. ________________________________________________________________________
Daniel Reio is the director of marketing for CDW Canada, a leading provider of technology solutions and a trusted advisor for SMBs. For more information, visit http://www.cdw.ca/.