It’s no secret that employees want a greater say in the technology they use on a daily basis. While often annoying and certainly sub-optimal for IT departments, this has become the reality many corporations have to embrace. And while your IT department might not love supporting different hardware and operating system platforms, that doesn’t mean BYOD is necessarily bad for your company. Here are a few thoughts to consider when wading through the BYOD decision process.

Why is it good?
In the contemporary corporate environment, employees are expected to be more efficient and output more deliverables per employee than at any time in our nation’s history. When you expect results at that type of pace, you better arm your employees with the tools and training necessary to achieve those lofty goals. BYOD policies better enable your organization to do that because employees will be more efficient. If one group of workers prefers iOS, knows the in’s and out’s of the software, understands the app environment for that hardware, etc…, they’re going to be more efficient using their mobile devices — that goes for tablets as well, which are certainly growing as an enterprise computing replacement candidate. You want people operating within the software and hardware parameters in which they’re most comfortable. If they’re more comfortable and possess greater expertise on that platform, they will work more efficiently because of it. Furthermore, you expect your employees to be reachable at almost all times — make it easier and more enjoyable for them to do so by encouraging BYOD policies.

The other primary reason BYOD policies can benefit your organization stem from the bottom line — it can be cheaper. If you’re not installing a mobility server, buying hardware for everyone in the company, replacing any broken hardware or software along the way, etc…, your bottom line can show marked improvement. In addition to that, instead of purchasing bulk business plans through AT&T, Verizon, or some other service provider, you can simply subsidize your employees’ personal plans so that they can still receive free cell service as part of their perk package, but it’s cheaper for you. Plus, it can also be easier on this front for your IT department because they don’t have to keep up with which employees are eligible for hardware upgrades or when the upgrades can be claimed — if the employee wants to upgrade either, it’s on him or her to handle that.

For companies that want to provide more generous benefits packages, you can allocate a lump sum reimbursement for a new piece of hardware every two years, but you’re still putting the choice and the control in the hands of your employees, which will almost certainly lead to a happier and more productive workforce.

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So why isn’t everyone doing it?
The primary problem with BYOD policies come from the IT department — it’s difficult to support all of the different platforms, it increases the variables that IT has to contend with, and poses massive security risks if not handled correctly.

When differing percentages of your workforce carry iOS, Android, or Windows phones, it’s difficult to implement cross platform solutions to support each one of those. While there are some software suites that offer limited cross-platform integration opportunities, many times the IT department simply has to strong arm its way into finding and implementing piecemeal solutions for your organization. IT ends up supporting and troubleshooting many systems and interfaces because each platform communicates with your enterprise software suite(s) differently. This can be hell on your IT department, even if all of your other employees love it.

Supporting all of the operating systems and their related hardware also increases the absolute number of variables that your IT department has to contend with. How they handle: new hardware purchases, employees that lose or damage their hardware + how to get them back online, how to deal with security breaches within lost devices of different manufacturer origins, etc… This can necessitate larger IT departments or require larger skillsets from your staff in order to contend with all of the extra variables.

The final, and most glaring, weakness with BYOD policies comes in the form of security concerns. This is a detailed enough and important enough topic to warrant its own blog post, which I will be providing to you next week. Until then, have a great weekend!