BYOD - reducing costs and complexity for IT

BYOD - reducing costs and complexity for IT

I’ve written about the topic “Bring your own Device” (BYOD) in the past but I never really touched on the issue of what BYOD does for IT complexity.

Does having a BYOD policy that allows your employees to bring their own devices increase the workload and complexity for the IT staff?

My gut reaction to that question: Yes…it does add complexity. Building BYOD policies doesn’t require more control and complexity – sometimes it can decrease complexity with the proper forethought and planning.

Notice, I said “with forethought and planning” there. Using best practices, common sense and see what others have done that has worked and what mistakes others have made in the BYOD realm, and you’ll be fine.

First off, let’s look at phones.  Each person has their own preference for a phone. While a majority of people may prefer an iPhone or an Android phone, some prefer the new Windows Phone and some may even prefer (or require) a Blackberry. It is quite difficult for an IT group to support all of those phones…so in the past, they’ve standardized on one (or two). In the past, this standardization was it…if you had a company phone, you had one of the standard phones.

The problem arises when people have a preference for their own phone and/or a preference (or intense dislike) for an operating system. So the employee carry two phones: 1 for work, 1 for personal. Some are even able to talk the IT group into allowing their ‘personal phones’ on the network to access email. This becomes a burden for IT support as they now have to make note of these ‘one-off’ phones that are allowed on.

Rather than standardize on a phone and provide support for those phones, build a policy that allows individuals to add their personal phones to the network.  This reduces complexity as it allows the IT group to focus less on phone standardization processes and focus more on security and mobility. By focusing on the security aspects, IT can implement products that help manage these new personal phones and the data that might reside on them. Additionally, this new focus allows IT to build consistent security across all mobile devices.

In addition to phones, tablets and laptops are another area that can be reviewed to provide additional service to employees while reducing complexity. Being ‘mobile’ is key for many employees these days, and adding BYOD policies that allow end-users to provide their own devices – along with the proper end-to-end enterprise security measures – makes sense. If your users are comfortable using their own tablet compared to your standard tablet, why not let them?

In addition to reducing complexity, BYOD can provide cost savings to the organization. Most employees have a smartphone, so why not allow them to use it for business calls and emails and save some money? Additionally, many today have tablets…if an employee can use their own tablet for business, that’s an additional $500 savings that the organization will not have to spend to buy a tablet for that employee.

The cost savings debate is one that can be tricky. You don’t want to take the approach that you are want to shift the burden of costs for mobile device to your employees. You don’t want to not provide devices and force employees to purchase their own. That would be bad for morale. But, if you have employees who have their own devices that they want to use, you should have a policy in place to allow them to bring them into the workplace to assist with their work.

Selecting the right BYOD strategy and policies might be a lot of work for IT in the short term, in the long run it will reduce complexity, support hours and costs for the organization.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG, Dell and Intel®.