Our recent Mobile Rebels research highlighted that interest in BYOD is still growing and shed light on the challenges created by increasingly mobile-savvy employees. In the second of his posts on the subject, Brian Gammage, Chief Market Technologist EMEA for VMware, offers advice for businesses on how to transform these challenges into opportunities.
Why do you think companies are finding BYOD such a challenge?
The biggest challenge for IT organisations is in managing the diverse range of technology found in offices and across organisations: BYOD makes this harder, potentially much harder. Just a few years ago, best practice for IT management was standardisation – everyone had the same equipment and could be managed through the same approaches to maximize efficiency. With rapid growth in the diversity of equipment being used, those established efficiencies break down. Deciding how to embrace this new diversity is difficult and BYOD makes it harder by adding a new dimension to the decision tree: ownership. No IT organisation can expect or suddenly decree that all employees bring their own device to work, but they can be smart about how and where they embrace the approach. What they need to do is look at their employee base, segment them and decide who is given what technology and who needs more choice, according to what they need for their work. Business and (user) functional need is at the core of BYOD. As we saw from the research, a lack of a BYOD allowance or policy is often a deal breaker for an employee. Companies need to wise up and adapt to this view.
How should companies adapt to the increased demand for newer technology from their employees?
What you need is a shift in mind-set – IT should be setting policy not managing assets. First you need to recognize that you do not need to own or manage a device to obtain results from it. This leads you to a broader strategic direction and a withdrawal from just thinking about managing assets.
Look at virtual machines – if my objective is to put a virtual machine on a device and manage that virtual machine, then my only requirement for the device is whether it can run the virtual machine. That defines what is suitable and anything that meets the requirement is good enough.
So what businesses need to do is establish a blueprint for how they will withdraw from managing the assets directly and shift their focus to managing the results obtained. From this initial blueprint they can begin to address existing IT challenges that BYOD has prompted and continue to adapt their strategy to keep up with the changing needs of their employees as new technology assets become available.
What should companies be looking for when they come to defining their BYOD strategy?
First, they to define the boundaries between personal and work assets and divide responsibility for supporting and accessing these, as this allows for the separation between work and personal costs and data. A business shouldn’t have responsibility for, or access to, an employee’s data outside of a work capacity. Neither should they have responsibility for the costs of managing the employee’s personal information or use of services.
This process could be made even simpler (and address these concerns about hard copies of company documents existing on personal devices) by offering access to the company’s internal infrastructure through a browser window, with nothing stored locally on the device. The requirement then becomes just a device that can run an appropriate browser – the range of devices that are good enough becomes much, much broader.
IT departments should be looking to standardise their processes and applications over as broad a footprint of technologies as possible – and not just on today’s known assets but also the unknown. They need a mechanism for supporting their workforce that is designed to handle change.
What are the advantages for companies working with their employees to develop a BYOD strategy?
Employees’ personal BYOD usage is something to be harnessed, as they can provide key insight into what works well and what doesn’t. The company can look at this and decide what they think it is worth bringing into their own internal asset mix. Identify your key users and how they use IT to develop strategies to best support each user group – and remember, we (as users) are not all the same. Work out the functional requirements of workers and use this to work out what the future can and should look like. The IT department shouldn’t just look at how well current technology fits with the existing needs of their employees – they should also been looking ahead at technology they need for the future and how they can support and grow with their employees’ evolving needs. And never underestimate the importance of personalisation in a user’s IT experience; people identify with their mobile devices much more than a PC box under their desk. You need to get away from what it is and what it is built from and towards what it does. This is a reflection of the growing maturity of the industry.
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