Thanks to consumer-friendly Android and Apple devices, the BYOD trend - in which employees buy their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones and use them for both professional and personal reasons - is here for the long haul. For resellers, developing practical strategies can ensure a problem-free BYOD rollout.
The first step in developing a successful BYOD strategy is assessing a client's specific needs, something that sounds obvious but is often overlooked. In many cases, “employees are already bringing devices [through] the back door to begin with,” says David Krebs, vice president of the mobile and wireless practice at market analysis firm VDC Research. With personal devices already in use, there is a tendency to retrofit BYOD strategies around currently deployed devices - a recipe for potential chaos later.
“Resellers need to develop a mobility program as they would develop and design an application.” Bzur Haun, President and CEO, Visage Mobile
The overall purpose of a BYOD program should also be considered up front. “Initially there is a lot of discussion around cost benefits - the employees are purchasing their own devices and potentially their own data plans, and that's a cost the organization doesn't have to absorb,” Krebs says. However, he points out that a focus solely on cost could lead to security issues, particularly if resellers don't take a systematic look at what employees really need to do with their mobile devices.
A better approach: Consider how clients can leverage the captive installed base of consumer devices in a way that addresses work-related benefits such as improving employee productivity and engagement. Krebs recommends looking at BYOD in a segmented rather than horizontal fashion. “Understand employees and their roles and the workflow they are supporting,” Krebs says. “Let that determine the approach to mobility.”
Such a segmented look may reveal that it doesn't make sense to support BYOD for mission-critical mobile applications that are highly sophisticated and perhaps even custom-designed, such as those for field service technicians, Krebs says. This is because “you're introducing a mobile solution that is very much integrated with an individual's daily workflow, and there are critical aspects in terms of not only maintaining uptime and keeping failure of the device and application to a minimum, but also making sure the application meets the organization's requirements.”
When designing an application to meet the lowest common denominator, as is typical with BYOD, it's natural to take shortcuts. Mobile applications that are native to a specific device tend to have richer user interfaces and more capabilities; browser-based applications are more suitable to business productivity kinds of applications such as email or calendaring, and therefore lend themselves to BYOD.
ASSESSING USE CASES
As president and CEO of Visage Mobile, a San Francisco-based provider of SaaS-based mobility expense management software, Bzur Haun has seen many BYOD rollouts take place prior to a thorough assessment of use cases. To understand how employees use mobile devices and develop a BYOD program accordingly, Haun recommends accompanying end users on their daily rounds. “It's important to understand exactly how you expect a salesperson, field engineer, or executive to use mobility,” Haun says. “Resellers need to develop a mobility program as they would develop and design an application.”
As such, there is a considerable amount of due diligence and analysis involved, and resellers may find three to eight distinct audiences and subsequent use cases within the same organization. Knowing how specific groups of employees should use mobility will allow resellers to determine how many devices should be permitted. Executives, for example, may require three devices, while salespeople may be permitted two devices, and office staff perhaps only one.
Knowing up front the full scope of a BYOD program is critical when preparing a client's network and management infrastructure. Take bandwidth. If an organization allows employees to have multiple devices - as is typical - there needs to be enough capacity on the network to avoid latency issues. And it's not just the number of devices to take into account. Tom Murphy, chief marketing officer of Bradford Networks, a provider of network security solutions in Cambridge, Mass., recommends what he calls the “four Ws” to define BYOD: “when devices connect, what devices connect, where the devices connect, and who uses the devices,” Murphy explains.