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.