There’s no one right answer when it comes to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) debate, according to a recent blog post by Alcatel-Lucent’s (News - Alert) Manish Sablok, “To BYOD or Not to BYOD – that is the question!”
Users increasingly expect the opportunity to use their device of choice in the workplace. BYOD benefits, according to a recent study by the Aberdeen (News - Alert) Group, were found to cost a company with 1,000 mobile devices spent an extra $170,000 on average when employing a BYOD strategy . Depending on priorities this is certainly something to factor in given that BYOD can help employees boost productivity, assist with collaboration to speed decision making and improve customer relationships by leveraging social networks. It is also important to be minful of the fact that BYOD brings security, cost and data-management issues.
All of this raises an interesting question. Do the pros outweigh the cons? That depends on the worker and the business overall, says Sablok.
CIOs must “choose a pragmatic deployment strategy with due diligence and 360 degree assessment in order to pace their adoption, based on business and user role requirements,” he wrote. The usefulness of BYOD is case-by-case.
It isn’t generational, though, which is a common misperception. In fact, Sablok cites a recent Computacenter survey that found less than half of the young workers questioned reported that personal devices make them more productive. This contrasted with 70 percent of IT decision-makers. Plus, only 17 percent said they used social media to talk with colleagues at work, too. He concludes that this demonstrates that the generational difference has been overstated.
When it does make sense is in many customer-facing roles. Employees in a cubicle all day might not see much benefit, but “when tablets are used in a retail environment or across a hospital, for example, it can hugely improve productivity and make the resolving of customer enquiries or patient health-checks much easier and time-efficient.”
Culture and business needs also play significant roles. In South Africa, for instance, companies are not usually provided with a work cell phone, so employees don’t expect it, and companies in the United Arab Emirates rarely offer BYOB either. However, in the U.K. and the United States, of course, policies vary as BYOD is taking a strong hold.
Sablok states that context is also important in determining if a BYOD policy makes sense. For example, does a company requires tight data security, like with a financial institution, or can get away with a lighter touch, like at an educational institution?
While there still are cases when it makes sense to not offer a BYOD policy, Sablok says the data indicates the cases are fewer than just a few years ago. He also believes that security and data management are no longer the Achilles Heel of BYOD policies.
He points to technologies such as those encompassed by Alcatel-Lucent’s Application Fluent Network which helps businesses manage real-time application and BYOD environments by providing:
- A resilient architecture
- Automatic control for auto-sensing and profile-based management
- Streamlined operations via provisioning, consistency and management tools
He concluded by stating, “Infrastructure specialists such as Alcatel-Lucent have been developing infrastructure solutions to enable the development of BYOD…These network infrastructures provide secure collaborative conversation applications on employees' device of choice – the same infrastructure which can integrate voice and data platforms and provide video.”
Even with these tools, however, it is up to each business to decide if BYOD is right for its operation. Increasingly the answer globally is yes, especially since in many cases it is the desire of C-levels that now run their businesses on the go via smartphones and tablets to have not just themselves but mission critical individuals have access to the information they need to be responsive in a rapidly changing world.
Edited by Peter Bernstein