A Bad Argument for BYOD

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I hear people confusing and running together “BYOD” talk and “Mobility” talk all the time. As far as I’m concerned, every executive and every field sales person should have multiple “smart” devices and have full access to email, apps, and data (a virtual desktop) anywhere, anytime. That’s enterprise mobility -and that’s a sound information access and productivity strategy worthy of investment. BYOD is an asset management /ownership policy model that might work for some organizations and can be catastrophic for others. Perhaps the most powerful siren’s song for BYOD is that it will save you money. That’s BS.

Implementing a BYOD strategy MIGHT save your organization money, or it can wreak havoc. The success or failure depends on dozens of factors that require analysis before you start cancelling corporate data plans, laying off your help desk team, and telling your employees to start managing their own computers or smart phones. As with all things ,the devil is in the details.

You don’t have to pay for devices anymore … YAY! Tell your staff they can buy that fancy new Samsung or iPhone thing. Are you going to make them pay for the device but not the data? The sales guy who used to have a corporate blackberry for email and voice can now get a BYOD iPhone for $300, get all kinds of apps, chew through Gigs of data and YOU are on the hook for the TELCO charges. Maybe you could choose to split the data plan with your sales guy … That will save you money right? Have fun trying to monitor and audit someone’s smart phone data usage.  I won’t even bother with how crazy it is to just offload the data charges onto them.  That’s just cruel and short-sighted.

What about device support? Telling your folks to look after their own stuff means that when it breaks, you have no control over how long it takes to get fixed … and while your sales guy is twiddling his thumbs waiting for his laptop to get fixed at Future Shop or the Bell store to replace the iPhone he dropped in a toilet, your business is losing money.

Remember, now the device is owned by the employee.  They are naturally NOT going to be OK with ‘big brother’ MDM components watching them (GPS location tracking or content filtering).  Now, a properly crafted BYOD policy including something like “if you want to use your devices on the company network, you must allow us to put our utilities on it…” is a must.  But, with the most recent package changes from the big TELCO guys, and with some decent negotiation skills, your company can arrange for new devices and comprehensive data for a great price (we recently went through this internally and now we’re helping clients do the same).  If you circle back on ‘why’ a company might embrace BYOD, the capital savings you thought you’d get are a wash with a great corporate mobility package.

If the devices are company provided, most worries about MDM utilities and privacy are negated.  So, what’s left is ‘I want to use my cool device and I don’t want to carry 2 phones’.  You can probably get a corporate package that includes cool devices renewed every 2 years.  You can also get your team to select the new standards (with multiple options) which will likely nix their reservations about personal devices being better.  I suggest you create packages that have a high tolerance for personal usage, thereby, saying ‘you can use the work device for personal use.’  That way, your team can avoid the sad reality of people walking around with 2 devices.  (note: an ethical use policy is important here – most companies likely have one for other computing).

My advice … invest time and resources into enterprise mobility and a better corporate mobility package – and be fiscally wary of loose BYOD adoption.  Let’s chat.

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