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This week I had the pleasure of attending the GigaOm Mobilize conference in San Francisco. The BYOD topic has popped up in a number of sessions and is a great segue into our second blog on the BYOD invasion. Last time I talked about Why BYOD? What companies and employees want – and the first session today brought it home. One company speaking at this conference and embracing the BYOD invasion is Cisco. This is a great example of of the fact that BYOD isn’t just about mobile phones and tablets – it’s also about laptops (also referred to as BYOC). 

Cisco has  about 50,000 users and gives them the option to purchase their own laptops. With this flexibility, 10,000 of these users have Mac laptops. Tom Gillis, VP and GM Security Technology Business Unit stated that this policy has reduced costs by 25% and end user satisfaction is up 200%. So why are we happier to be spending our own money for our work laptops? Tom stated that “They (employees) are happy because they have the freedom of choice.” he recommends “Give the people what they want. Implement the infrastructure to control it. Everybody wins.”

I think these are great words to guide us in this BYOD discussion. After all, we want out employees to be happy, don’t we?The new white paper we are talking about, written by Aberdeen’s Andrew Borg, is chock full of great new statistics to support the BYOD invasion in today’s world. 

The research from Aberdeen goes way back go 2008, when they started to track the use of ’employee liable’ devices.  Their early research findings showed a fundamental shift in how mobile devices were being procured, paid for, managed, and supported. Since 2008 the trend that was pretty North America dominated has only been speeding up – and globalizing.

In their July 2011 study, Aberdeen  found that 75% of organizations, like Cisco, were permitting the use of employee-liable devices for business purposes. That’s a huge number, and when you break it down there are 51% of companies who stated that they were permitting any employee device to gain access to corporate network and email, and 24% indicated that they require all employee-liable devices to comply with company policy before permitting them corporate access.

The recommendation from Cisco was that you have to control BYOD. I firmly believe that in order to be successful, you can’t take this concept lightly. The 51% is a pretty scary number and a bit of a worry in my mind. I am curious if this group of companies allows access to email only or if they have strategies for deploying enterprise mobile applications as well. And if they don’t have a company policy in place then are they controlling and securing these devices.

While BYOD is compelling, we should think about it long term and be sure to look at your entire mobility strategy – not just letting devices in. We’ll be asking Andrew a lot of these questions and diving more into this research during the webcast on this topic on October 4th (it’s free, but registration is required).

In my next blog I’ll look more into the behavior of three classes of companies – Aberdeen groups them as ‘Best in Class’, ‘Industry Average’  and ‘Laggards’. Cisco is a great example of a company that is taking the BYOD invasion seriously and achieving significant benefits. I think you’ll find the statistics pretty interesting.

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