Beginning last year, we saw plenty of companies begin to take the BYOD leap for a variety of reasons. They wanted to allow employees to bring their device of choice, remove restrictions and shift some of the cost burden. Doing so could help reduce the amount of management and support required. And, of course, because giving employees this freedom to bring in smartphones and tablets it would lead to a huge surge in productivity.
There’s no doubt that a robust BYOD solution and policy can help to increase productivity in your organization. Nearly every business has areas where employees could gain efficiency by having access to email or company data on any device – checking email on the commute or while in line for a coffee, updating client information while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, etc.
A study from Aberdeen suggests that while the average CIO will want to see a return in hard dollars or minutes saved, the conversation about BYOD productivity needs to discuss workflow efficiencies.
“Although the temptation is to measure specific processes and estimate the number of minutes shaved off routine activity, it’s advisable to look at process workflows that would otherwise have long bottlenecks without ubiquitous mobile access,” explained Aberdeen Group analyst Andrew Borg.
But it’s important to temper expectations and focus on where there are real gaps to fill rather than adding devices and a BYOD policy just for the sake of it. For example, it’s unrealistic that an employee with a laptop, tablet and smartphone – especially in a role that would not necessarily interact with customers – is probably not gaining much from all of those devices.
However, for employees that are remote or mobile, constantly on the move, and network with coworkers and employees, having a tablet device could make a significant difference. Light enough to take anywhere, agile enough to use at any time – a tablet device can really bring a wealth of benefits.
At healthcare facilities, tablets can take the point-of-care and truly move it to the patient, even allowing for real-time access and updates to records. Manufacturing managers are no longer confined to a desk and are able to check on processes and inventory as they walk around the site. For financial institutions, it means bringing premier customer service to the customer through interfaces with the data they need.
In short, including new devices – that could be a part of a BYOD program – can completely upend your current business processes, rearrange and shrink the sales cycle, or allow for entirely new forms of collaboration.
However, like I said before, you have to temper expectations. While a BYOD policy that allows for iPhones looks extremely attractive to prospective employees that do not want to learn Android or Blackberry devices, you also need to consider the real reasons of why they are clamoring for this type of program. It is likely that at some point, employees will use these devices to gain easier access to websites that your network filters or blocks, use social networking sites, or complete personal activities alongside their professional tasks.
Most importantly, it’s critical to consider the risks of a BYOD program and take the time to weigh the productivity pros against the security cons. You could be allowing your employees to accidentally bring viruses or malware into the corporate network. And if you’re in a regulated industry – think HIPAA, SOX, etc. – there is another level of conversation that needs to happen to maintain compliancy.
Before taking the BYOD leap to make productivity gains, think things through with your IT department or bring in an outside, third party consultant like NetGain Technologies that can help you truly examine the positives and negatives before you architect a BYOD policy that fits your organization.
As 2013 progresses, we are going to see the BYOD trend gain traction and accelerate. Does your business BYOD? Are you prepared to do so? If you have questions about BYOD, feel free to post in the comments or tweet @NetGainTech.