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BYOD: Bring Your Own Decision Making

 There is a general feeling that bring your own device (BYOD) is here and cannot be stopped. However, a series of recent articles relay the deep ambivalence that continues to dog enterprises as they struggle to accommodate employees using their personal devices for work.

First is the issue of cost. A recent Forbes article that addresses the true cost of BYOD finds quite varying opinions. It cites a study by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group that shows companies can save as much as $3,150 per employee per year “if they implement a ‘comprehensive’ BYOD program that basically gives employees access to all the information they need to do their jobs from their personal devices.” (The figure is a combination of device savings and increased worker productivity.)

Yet a number of cautionary voices chime in. IT services provider Damovo UK found that nearly three-quarters of the IT directors it surveyed are worried that BYOD will cause IT costs to “spiral out of control.” According to a report by Nucleus Research, the actual cost of a device makes up just 10 percent of the total cost of deploying that device in a business environment. The costs of voice and data, development, management, and support also need to be accounted for. “The challenges of BYOD can increase the other 90 percent of spend to the point where BYOD will actually increase overall costs without providing tangible benefits,” notes the report. Likewise, Aberdeen Group points to BYOD as a factor in rising telecommunications costs, in part because companies may lose the volume discounts they received when purchasing devices and service from a single provider.

Nonetheless, an infographic on readwrite.com indicates how BYOD is clearly growing, along with the drivers and concerns associated with the practice. The graphic shows that 38 percent of American CIOs were expected to support BYOD in 2012, while 82 percent of surveyed companies allow some or all workers to use employee-owned devices. Tellingly, these numbers indicate that productivity and satisfaction are more powerful drivers than cost savings.

Then there is the issue of security. According to the latest research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), “as BYOD increases and employees increasingly use personal laptops, smartphones, and mobile devices for work purposes, concerns over data security and data privacy remain the most significant barriers … ” A Wired column on the BYOD debate notes:

"Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions have evolved to address some of the problem, but they do not reflect the way that people work. MDM standardizes what can be put on to employees’ personal devices and provides the means to “mobilize” content no matter where it is—on old school ECM solutions or group drives—with some device-level governance. But employees mostly are restricted from sharing content or changing the attributes. And MDM doesn’t manage version control and document history or manage access rights to certain docs or folders. While MDM may make employers feel more secure, it limits employees’ ability to put key content to work."

The approach they say is necessary: allow employees to perform their business functions from the devices they prefer and give management control over the functional content.

Elsewhere, a post on ucstrategies.com brings to light a sometimes forgotten factor: workers do not universally endorse BYOD. Note the editors, “Cisco reported that 30 percent of mobile users polled preferred corporate devices. A quarter of BYOD workers would rather use devices provisioned by the company, while 15 percent said that they were not productive when using their personal devices.”

Clearly, while BYOD is growing in the enterprise, the decisions companies must make are not straightforward. Regardless, they must be made, and sooner rather than later.

Posted by Epicor Social Media Team

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