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Author's profile photo Milja Gillespie

Why BYOD? What companies and employees want

I am pleased to have been collaborating with Andrew Borg, research Analyst from Aberdeen Group on a new topic for the SAP Mobile Sense series. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be diving into the Bring Your Own Device phenomenon and how it can impact your mobility strategy. I’ll soon be publishing a whitepaper written by Andrew on this topic and will be hosting a live webinar on October 4th.

Over the past few years, organizations have been permitting, and even encouraging employees to bring their own mobile devices into the workplace to be used for work purposes. While it came on pretty slowly, it has been picking up steam over the last 12-18 months. And it is shifting the way in which devices are procured, paid for, managed and supported.

At first glance, the concept may appear to radically lower the cost of enterprise mobility. Two years ago the discussion was about who got a mobile device – today that is a moot point.  Everyone has a mobile device.  And companies can extend productivity and communications advantages to a much broader group of employees by letting them being their own devices to work.  However, the BYOD concept also introduces new risks and may actually significantly increase costs of the organization if not properly managed.

Let’s start from the beginning – by look at why companies and individual are even considering BYOD.  In the whitepaper written by Aberdeen for SAP, Andrew Borg states that the BYOD phenomenon has momentum because it meets the needs of both the organization and the employee.

What do organizations want?  When you are asked ‘Why BYOD?’ what is the first thing that comes to mind from the POV of IT?  Probably “to cut costs.” After all, you won’t have to pay for the actual piece of hardware, right?  By transferring the cost of the equipment purchase to the employee, IT can certainly decrease capital expenditures. However, on the other hand it can increase the complexity of the mobile infrastructure needed to manage a network of both personally and corporate owned devices.  Andrew argues that if it is done well and managed properly, success can be accomplished without a significant increase in operational budget.  If it’s not done properly it could end up costing you much more.

What to employees want? We’re pretty much all employed by someone so we all have a point of view on this.  What do employees really want when it comes to working on a mobile device? From my own point of view, with mobility a huge part of my life, I need to have the device I want. I hate to put a stake in the ground, but when it comes to this topic I just have to.  If I am not allowed to use the device that I want I will not be a happy worker.  This is just the way the world is going. Some may argue that mobility has a tendency to extend the work day and cut into personal time (I won’t deny that), but others argue that it actually gives the employee control to decide where and when they work. Andrew states that supporting a BYOD model enables the interleaving of personal and social life into the workplace as appropriate, offering a potential for a healthier work/life balance. I think we could all use a bit of that.

Where we can be successful is when we meet both the needs of the company and the needs of the employee. One company I recently met with at SAP’s TechEd user conference told me that they support the BYOD model because their employees simply demand it. They even use it in their employment recruiting efforts.  “Come work for us and we’ll let you use your own device.”

I can give you lots of anecdotal facts on what companies are doing in this area, but instead, I’ll next share statistics from Aberdeen’s research on the topic.  Stay tuned for the next posting where we’ll talk more.

To learn more about this topic and get the whitepaper (coming soon), visit the Mobile Sense website. Register now for the Webcast on October 4th with Andrew Borg of Aberdeen.

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      Author's profile photo Bjoern Weigand
      Bjoern Weigand
      I totally agree with your arguments about BYOD = happy worker, but I wonder why only mobile devices are considered. What's about my laptop? I would really like to bring my own laptop with a proper OS and the right tools, instead of using the company owned laptop where I have to authorize even open source applications. It is clear that BYOL would be a more complex task than BYOD, but to be a real happy worker this is inevitable 🙂
      Author's profile photo Trond Stroemme
      Trond Stroemme
      I guess this depends on the organization, and the type of work. Most enterprises running SAP are large companies, with a strong focus on data integrity and security. Bringing your own laptop, with a potential multitude of private programs and possible virii (is "virii" plural of "virus"? Not sure) could compromise the corporate network, at least if internal security routines were lax.

      I know of one case, working for a former client, where a contractor "polluted" large parts of the company network by hooking up his private laptop, thereby letting a virus loose. He was fired on the spot.

      When you talk about "proper OS", I guess it's the "fanboy" attitude shining through... 🙂 Most corporations again have chosen their preferred platforms based on their business needs; as employees/contractors/consultants we have to accept this, even if it's not "our" flavour of environment.

      To sum up, even if I'm not an expert in internal network security, I would imagine laptops and personal PC's to present a much larger threat to the internal stability of a corporate network than a simple presentation device. I, for one, would be very reluctant to let such laptops loose (especially those belonging to inventive consultants running "proper OS's"... 🙂


      Author's profile photo Bjoern Weigand
      Bjoern Weigand
      Hi Trond,

      I fully agree with your security concerns and that's want I've mentioned too. And "proper OS" doesn't mean MacOS X implicitly, but I guess that's what you expected. Moreover I disagree with your statement that a mobile phone is only a "presentation device", because it is much more today. So if you don't use it carefully you can also harm a corporate network. Today I read the next blog in this series and it seems that some  large companies have already followed the concept of BYOD and also BYOC (so BYOL is the wrong abbreviation) and it is no surprise that a lot of employee bought a MacOS X based laptop (so that's what you expected, I guess). Anyway, BYOD/C need a proper security concept that’s for sure (and I'm also no security guy) and it seems that those companies have already reached this level. I'm curious about the development in this area.


      Author's profile photo Trond Stroemme
      Trond Stroemme
      Hi Björn,

      thanks for your feedback! Actually, by "proper OS" I was expecting Linux (since we're talking about laptops here; I haven't seen too many consultants with Macbooks - these seem to be reserved for the non-IT people so far :-). But, anyway, I was referring to situations where home laptops, with a multitude of applications and possible virii, malware and other infections were "let loose" in a corporate network. Laptops are still far more inclined to (harmful) interaction than mobile phones and pads, although this is, as you're pointing out, changing rapidly.

      I would assume - as you're doing - that the companies allowing this have examined the safety concerns and put routines in place. It would be interesting to read more about the experiences made by these companies, and what is done on the security side.

      My original reservations might be outdated. Still, I remember discussing with a friend of mine (not more than 3 years ago) the issues he faced when setting up Wifi systems for large hotel chains. His main problem was that whenever a guest checked in and hooked up with his/her computer, a horde of malware programs, trojans and bots leaped out of the visiting laptop - this was more the rule than the exception. Keeping the internal wifi network free of these threats was a nightmare, according to him. Again, would be interesting to hear some "war stories" on this subject!