The future for BYOD – Tracking the trends
In the next five years, the global bring your own device (BYOD) enterprise market is set to grow...
A ‘choose your own device’ policy combines all the benefits of ‘bring your own device’, with none of the downsides. Here’s why you should embrace it.
Many businesses want to empower their employees by letting them choose which device they use for work. According to recent Tech Pro Research, 72 per cent of organisations either already are, or plan to let employees use their own devices for work tasks. These could be phones, laptops, desktops, or a combination of all three. However, there are competing schools of thought on the matter. Some firms advocate a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, while others prefer a choose your own device (CYOD) strategy.
The difference? BYOD lets the user use whichever device they want in the business environment, be it the same one they use for personal communications, or just one they think will help them get the job done. CYOD, on the other hand, is more prescriptive; it lets them choose one from a predetermined list of devices approved by the corporation for use with its servers and services.
It’s a small difference, but one that can have massive ramifications for enterprises.
On paper, BYOD sounds like a great solution. The user gets complete control over which device they use, which means they can pick one they like and may already be familiar with. But problems soon emerge.
According to Graham Thomas, Senior Technologist at Lenovo, workers tend to pick the wrong sorts of devices.
“If you give someone £1000 and tell them to buy a laptop, chances are they’ll buy either the shiniest, most aspirational product they can find, or they’ll buy the cheapest one and keep the rest of the money for themselves,” he says.
The result is that employees operating under BYOD are often woefully underequipped for the business environment. Part of the problem is the hype surrounding new devices.
“When iPads first came out, everyone thought they could do all their work on one – even management accountants who open 100MB spreadsheets,” Thomas says. “For that you need a 15-inch screen with a numeric keypad and a full-size keyboard, not an iPad. It’s only when you explain it to them that they realise.”
That’s not to say it’s the employees’ fault. Faced with all the choices on offer, and with only a handful of headline specs to go on, it can be difficult to differentiate between devices. Two PCs might have the same hard drive, memory and processor, for example, but one could be a proper business machine and one a consumer device.
“There’s a lot inside that people might miss, but that can be crucial to the business, both in terms of functionality and security,” Thomas says.
For example, next May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes enforceable. Many companies are still exploring the full impact of what this means to their organisation. This might make consumer devices unsuitable because they can’t be secured to the required standard, and even if they could it might require significant investment in tools and software.
Not only does BYOD give workers unsuitable machines, but it also leaves the firm’s IT department floundering. A faulty device might take a week to be repaired, and in the meantime an employee will need a replacement. The greater diversity of devices an IT department has to support, the more stretched it will be. It can’t keep a spare of every kind of device under the sun. And where will they all be kept?
CYOD eliminates this complexity. Because the devices are approved by the company, it means the firm can meet the vendors, make sure the service and support are appropriate, and that they have international warranty coverage. It also enables more flexible types of working.
“If everyone’s device uses the same connections, the company can ensure each meeting room and hot desk is compatible, meaning employees can work from pretty much anywhere,” Thomas explains. A more agile working set-up will promote creativity and problem-solving, which will help the enterprise immensely.
Having a rigorous device selection process is also safer for the firm. It means the business can ensure each device is compatible with the company’s security, encryption products and protocols, and that they have the appropriate warranty.
Plus, enterprise-grade devices have a much longer roadmap, which means more stability for the company using them. “Our Lenovo ThinkPad and ThinkCentre enterprise machines have a minimum production cycle of 14 months,” Thomas says. “If you’re trying to replace devices within a company, and the existing one isn’t available, that raises all kinds of compatibility issues. It’s certainly not the best way to run things.”
CYOD has all of the benefits of BYOD, but with none of the negatives. It gives employees an element of choice without taking control away from the company. It makes for a smoother-running enterprise, and more flexible, productive employees.