Intel, the world's biggest chip vendor, first saw the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as an "irritant" and IT staff were keen to see its demise, according to Liam Keating, Intel's IT country manager for China.
Intel has 91,500 employees across the world, with IT staff making up 6400. The vendor has a standardised basic global BYOD policy in place, where employees are allowed to bring their personal device to work, provided it meets certain OS requirements. BYOD devices do not have access to Intel's network, but are provisioned with access to work email accounts, calendars and contacts.
For security, some devices are not allowed to use their native email clients, so a third-party application is installed to enforce security controls. This usually centres around encryption, device locking and remote wiping capabilities.
Personal devices used by Intel staff in manufacturing facilities also have restrictions, with camera phones forbidden in those environments, to prevent any leaking of confidential product information.
Intel currently supports 30,000 handheld devices, and 60 per cent of them are under the BYOD program.
Despite the efforts Intel has put into supporting it's staff's personal devices, the vendor had not always been so receptive about BYOD.
"We have a lot of things on our plate, so having to deal with these so-called consumer devices was, I would say, initially an irritant, actually," Keating said at the Intel Cloud Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. "I think many IT people personally hoped it would go away and it wouldn't last."
Having to find ways to lock down devices was one thing, but Intel also had to work closely with its HR and legal departments to safeguard its own private data.
"You encounter tricky scenarios where, let's say, you have to confiscate a personal device, because it has been compromised and it needs to be examined forensically," Keating said. "The employee needs to be willing to surrender that device."
"So, employees now, basically, implicitly sign an agreement when they get their mail, calendar contacts, and so on ... that, in that scenario, they are okay with surrendering that device for forensic examination."
It is a lot of work, but Keating said that it has been worth it, and that the company is now proud to have the ability to support numerous types of BYOD devices. While he could not detail any tangible cost savings, Keating noted that employees are happier, due to increased productivity through BYOD.
IDC and Dematic recently said that BYOD can actually cost businesses more money in the long run.
Intel is currently working on productivity apps for staff, including an app that allows staff to pre-order and pay for their lunch at the cafeteria.
Spandas Lui is attending the Intel Cloud Summit as a guest of Intel.