BYOD: What the people think

BYOD: What the people think

Summary: The readers of ZDNet are by-and-large a bright bunch, and comments on a recent article about BYOD shed light on how it works and what to expect in the future.

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TOPICS: Tablets
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A recent article about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement gaining strength due to the capable tablet generated over 200 comments from readers, proving how volatile a topic this is. Many comments denied the existence of BYOD because the commenters had not seen it in practice where they work. Other commenters set them straight, as their companies have employees bringing their own devices to work.

Commenter techconc details how BYOD is working at the large company where he/she works:

I work for a relatively conservative Fortune 500 company that has been very Windows centric on the desktop, etc. for years. My comments are surely anecdotal, but I'm seeing a similar trend at other companies as well.

With regard to tablets, though Android is an option now, it's pretty much exclusively all iPads for tablets.

Just this past year, they've offered Androids and iPhones for phones in addition to Blackberry. BYOD devices are now allowed as well. I'm seeing a 9:1 preference for iPhone over Android. Blackberries are essentially being phased out.

Right now, iPad usage is just for management, but it's just a matter of time before this gets rolled out to a larger audience as those who use them have been very happy. Though, they way they're used, they might as well be netbooks because they come with bluetooth keyboards, etc. as standard issue.

It sounds like phones are a big part of BYOD, with BlackBerry on the losing end. Tablets are showing up but primarily for management, lending credence to other commenters who stated emphatically that you can't do 'real' work on tablets.

Many folks have a genuine concern about how their personal data will be kept separate from work information on devices brought to work. Commenter jondrew detailed how his company is handling the separation of work and personal information.

I work for a large corporation that has just deployed BYOD for iPhones and iPads. You get a free client on the app store that acts as a "container" for corporate info. You can access email, calendar and limited forms of web browsing. I was part of the pilot program that tested BYOD. I don't have an iPhone, but do have an iPad. After several months, I ditched my company BlackBerry. While accessing corporate email on my iPad is not quite as easy as BB's push email, the larger screen and virtual keyboard make it much easier to respond, open attachments and whatnot. The downside is that in order to use this system you have to agree to allow corporate IT administrative access to remotely wipe your device if lost or stolen, and have to agree to surrender your device in the event of some sort of IT incident so that it can be examined. I don't know how other companies handle this sort of thing, but while less than thrilled to accept those Ts&Cs, I really figure there's nothing on my iPad so secret or personal that I really care.

I hardly ever bring my laptop home anymore. Between access with my iPad and being able to remote in to my laptop with my home computer through the company network I have all the access I need for 90% of my work. There are things that are not fully baked yet. There are some Flash/Java issues that the client does not handle well (or at all in some cases). The iPad (and I would venture to guess most tablets) are virtually useless for anything but the most basic of spreadsheets. No playing with my 10 and 20 meg pivot tables here. Even a client like Onlive's Desktop, which gave me access to a full virtual Window's Desktop with full capability Office Excel was of limited use due to the touch screen interface and the small screen size. And while I'll go "commando" on a 1 or 2 day trip with my iPad only, anything requiring longer stays or visits to sister corporate sites requiring full access to the corporate network requires bringing my laptop along.

That being said, I use my iPad (and feel free to insert the tablet of your choice here) everyday at work for note taking (Evernote/Penultimate) and other work tasks. Many of my colleagues drag their laptops from meeting to meeting (and a power brick too most of the time) and I just have my iPad with a smart cover and stylus.

Like I said, its a work in progress. But I've been in the game since the big Green Screen P/CM desktops and IT has always been a work in progress.

The comments show that many who believe tablets of today are incapable of doing real work do believe that Windows 8 slates will change things. Tablets running Windows 8 are not on the market yet but many have faith in them to take over the BYOD tablet space.

Commenter rkwalters@ summed up this feeling:

I have found all to this point lacking in being able to leverage Office 365 or Sharepoint web apps. Right now the problem is the browsers, they are just not fully functional. Crippled as it were to fit the existing form factor.

I have tried multiple Android tablets and even the iPad. Now I will admit that it has been 4 months since my last test, so there may be one that actually will do what my client needs but as of yet I am still looking and / or waiting for Windows 8 / Windows RT.

While many are waiting like the previous commenter for Windows 8/ RT to hit the enterprise, it is evident that there is some confusion on how these new tablets will work with legacy apps.

Commenter danbi responded to one reader making the statement that all existing Windows apps will run on all Windows 8 tablets:

You are naive to think that you will save any money by staying locked to Microsoft. No software you already have will run on Windows RT tablets. Not a single application. It uses different CPU architecture, has no emulator for your Intel CPU (because the ARM CPU is way less powerful for this), has completely different Windows API (WinRT, instead of Win32) etc, etc..

You best bet is to diversify your installed base. Buy iPads (or Android tablets, if you wish -- iPads are just safer bet), then ask your software vendor to provide software for them. There are over 70 million iPads around already and zero, none, Windows RT tablets. If your software vendor will ever write tablet version for their software, it will first appear on the iPad, then possibly on Android tablets and if those people have nothing else to do, on Windows RT. Or, they may start with Windows RT if you are willing to pay them a lot of money.

Your other bet is to avoid non-x86 Windows platforms and settle for thicker, heavier, with less battery runtime tablets -- than those your competitors will use.

CFWhitman adds to the Windows 8 tablet discussion:

Windows RT tablets running on ARM processors will have similar strengths and similar weaknesses as Android and iOS tablets.

Only Windows tablets that run on x86 processors will have the advantage of additional options to run regular Windows applications. On the other hand, those will have the same limitations that they have now, i.e., it's inconvenient to try to run programs that were written for a mouse/keyboard interface with a touchscreen interface.

For Windows tablets to gain an advantage over other tablets because of regular Windows software, Windows x86 based tablets would have to become as small, light, and fanless as ARM tablets, and you would probably need an option to convert them to keyboard use when you wanted.

Many examples were given in the comments on companies using BYOD already, and even a surprising group that has adopted the tablet.

Boy, you must work at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. At my company's last IT directors meeting virtually ever single administrator was there with an iPad. 30+ people. ...in IT.

The arguments both for and against BYOD were too many to count, but dracodos made a compelling argument for leaving BYOD alone.

I still don't get it, this whole BYOD bothers me, to the point that i recently TOOK OFF my work email from my personal phone and disconnected my personal tablet from my works Citrix enviroment. I honestly prefer to do work @ work. The job will not implode if i'm not avail for a bit, especially when it's off hours, lunch, etc. Of course i'm also NOT a CxO or manager :P I use my work phone for business calls but since i don't do it often, and have a huge pool of minutes, i don't mind. i don't give anyone at work my personal phone number anyway! Only the service desk knows, which is the way i like it.

I am willing to test some things on my personal phone and tablet, and i do. But otherwise i don't use it for those purposes.

I have a work laptop that i use for site visits and keep at home, in case i can't get to work and/or don't want to use a sick day. maybe one day they'll move us to Ultrabooks or even the TF Prime with a keyboard dock, that would be nice!

Maybe I like to have the separation from work and home, its what keeps me sane and a father!

Keeping work and personal life separate is a compelling argument against BYOD, and many also believe that employers have an ulterior motive for allowing workers to bring their own gear.

The whole point about BYOD is not to make your life easier, not to give you the freedom to pick your favorite (or most fashionable) device, it is not to undermine M$, nor even to destroy RIM and their superb (if dated) business devices. None of the above, nor the other stories you've heard.

BYOD is simply a way for employers to pass the ever-rising cost of devices on to their employees; they've noticed that people are happy to pay stupid money to get the latest toys, and realised that they might as well cash in.

Not only will you pay hard cash that the boss should be paying ... you'll be making it even easier for them to track down your every move.

You wait; those same employers will soon be *encouraging* you to join the FB they hated last year ... now they know they can keep even closer tabs on you.

So what do you think? Is BYOD a plot to get employees to save company money by supplying work tools? Are tablets capable enough to be used for real work, or are they toys for managers? Does your company allow you to BYOD, and if so how do they implement the program? If tablets are used, are keyboards part of the package or slate only? Leave your thoughts in the comments to help us all figure out this relatively new situation. ZDNet readers are a savvy bunch, and this discussion will benefit many.

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Topic: Tablets

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30 comments
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  • licensing?

    What I don't quite get is the licensing impact. A lot of business software is still licensed "per-device" either for the application or as a client license. How is the enterprise supposed to keep tabs on what devices are on their network and what licenses need to be purchased?

    There has to be an admin overhead here somewhere....
    leapyleee
    • Mobile Device Management Solutions

      can handle that part (Good for Enterprise, MobileIron, BB Fusion, Maas360, etc). First, MDMs can deploy company software. Second, they can do software/hardware audits of connected devices. As for non sanctioned apps used for company purposes, companies need to address this in their P&Ps. Either employees can buy apps on their own and expense it, or they shouldn't be using any such apps for company purposes and you communicate, up front, that they won't be reimbursed for any app purchases. Not all that different from an exec paying for cloud-based apps/services with his credit card. Just a matter of whose on the hook for it at the end. Some MDMs also have the ability to blacklist software, although that's a grey area when it comes to BYOD for pretty much anything that isn't malware.
      TroyMcClure
  • An an IT office worker...

    I find BYOD to be a pain in IT's a$$, and an insult from the employer. If a company wants me to be available after hours, they will provide a device and pay me for my time. We currently have various devices connecting in to Activesync for email, and there are usually issues with the phones. Now I'm stuck providing troubleshooting for a ton of different phones because the company is too cheap to purchase a standard device for all users. In other words, I hate it!
    kstap
    • It never ceases to amaze me ...

      ... that IT people continue to believe that the best solution for a business is the one that gives the IT people the least amount of work to do. It's the lie born of laziness.

      "Oh, no! I'm a technology person who has to be aware of how maybe a dozen pieces of extremely similar technology work! I'm a technical person who hates having to maintain current knowledge of technical things! It should be made simpler for me, because all companies are really just IT departments with pesky user infestation problems. Management is cheap! Users are stupid! GAAAAAAH!!!"
      RationalGuy
      • ActiveSync is a joke

        You've obviously never supported mobile devices at the enterprise level (1,000+ users). ActiveSync leaves much to be desired. The fact is there is no "standard" for ActiveSync as each mobile platform can select which part of EAS to support - thus Kris comment.

        All our BYOD users get best effort support, we validate the systems are working properly and if your specific devices doesn't work then that's for you to crowd source, figure out.
        MobileAdmin
      • huh?

        Obviously, you've never worked in IT. We have enough challenges to deal with other than idiot users that force their consumer garbage in the enterprise that causes nothing but problems for the user and the company. I'm expected to support 100's of different devices, that all work differently than each other? Talk about laziness... try using your brain for a second.

        Edit: You should probably change your screen name to better reflect your personality (hint: not rational)
        kstap
      • Spoken like a non-IT person. While there is some accuracy in your

        comment, supporting any device a person brings in the door is truly asinine. However, look at it from your perspective since we do not know what you do, assume you have manage business contracts. OK each customer you deal with writes their own contract, as long as they adhere to certain clauses that your company mandates. Now you Mr. Salesman/Lawyer etc. have to manage coordinate and maintain each of those contracts and all of the subclauses and addendum's that are put in there and updated quarterly when it's called to question or updated. Let me know how that works out for you....
        TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
      • Spoken like someone who has no clue.

        The function of IT is to maintain company IT infrastructure. Do you think I have time to administrate SANs, Routers, Switches, Servers, Virtulization, Messaging, Applications and still be messing around with peoples Ipads? I don't have the staff.
        mikedees
      • I've worked in IT for over 15 years

        But it never fails that as soon as I call someone out on some absolute BS IT lie, every other crank feels the need to tell me that it's "obvious" that I lack some certain IT experience.

        Most IT people I know are some combination of lazy, cranky, deliberately ignorant, and prejudiced to recommend the one technology they happen to know something about. They are comfortable to deliberately limit their knowledge to very narrow silos. They are experts of nothing and afraid of everything.

        Programmers who don't know how to map a printer. Help Desk people who say "the server" and "the network" interchangably. Exchange admins who have no clue how the SAN their servers are connected to works. Desktop technicians who have never once used a Mac or a Linux box. Any IT person who doesn't know how TCP/IP routing works, what a VLAN is, how DHCP works or how DNS works. It's frankly sickening.

        In short, IT is full of supposed technology people who hate technology.

        You should want to know how hundreds of devices work. You should want to know how to integrate and to support dozens of different technologies. You should want the phone to ring so a customer can give you another puzzle to solve. You should want to know not only your job, but the job of everyone who depends on you and everyone you depend on.

        There have been precious few colleagues who operate this way. Some few more that can be motivated to operate this way. But the vast majority are just ticket pushers with bad attitudes and little useful knowledge. Frankly, they get in the way. One of my great professional joys is accomplishing what the majority says is impossible.
        RationalGuy
  • BYOD- complete with baggage

    If an employer provides it I'll use it. I am not interested in commingling work communications and usages with my personal e-mails, browsing history, spreadsheets, documents, and volunteer board work. The ever-changing, all encompassing retention requirements being forced by politicians who would be astounded at the capabilities of PFS:File or WordStar will eventually make all employees' electronic activity subject to disclosure and forensic audit regardless of method, purpose or venue.
    EJC05262
    • Wow...

      A PFS:File reference! Haven't heard that one in over a decade.

      (I have a copy of Wordstar on a floppy somewhere)
      MyopicOne
  • BYOD

    BYOD is the company's way of off-loading the cost of my mobile device to me, while they expect me to be available off hours to work.

    I will attest to the sentiments of MobileAdmin and kris_stapley. iPhones in particular do not play well with MS Exchange ActiceSync. We had one iPhone user with over 15,000,000 items in his dumpster. There are numerous bugs inApple's IOS that cause multiple issues, including the famous never-ending calendar request issues.

    Common platforms are a goal of a good IT admin, and BYOD is counter to this. Yes, we're capable of supporting multiple platforms, but it sure costs the company extra money in time and productivity to support all this cr@p.
    bb_apptix
  • Whole point on BYOD it to stop having 2

    The whole point of BYOD is to get past having 2 phones - a crap corporate gestapo locked down one (Blackberry), and a useful, personal one - commonly iPhone or (Samsung) Galaxy) Android.

    As long as the mobile messaging and corporate data is sandboxed away from your stuff, Good Mobile Messaging for example, bring it on.

    Give everyone a $$$ Cell allowance, and fire your corporate purchasing and most of your internal mobile support people - pretty much for being rubbish and pushing rubbish solutions for years.
    neil.postlethwaite
    • Rubbish?

      Rubbish due to it doesn't allow you to not do corporate sanctioned activity? It's not corporates job to provide you the gadget of your choice. Do you understand standards and having scalability?

      We use Good Technology as well and it's nothing compared to BES. More expensive and not as functional. Yes it sandboxes but is that a benefit for you or the company? To me it staggers functionality of a device you spent a lot of money on. If you core usage is email nothing is cheaper and easier to use than Blackberry.
      MobileAdmin
    • goodbye Neil

      I'd fire you if you worked at my company. Guess what your attitude resembles?
      rollguy
  • thoughts

    "Many comments denied the existence of BYOD because the commenters had not seen it in practice where they work."

    There's still a lot of places without a BYOD policy. Sometimes they're simply not interested in changing already existing policy, sometimes they don't see any benefits to using a BYOD policy. Sometimes the security risks aren't worth it, either. After all, a personal device can have pretty much anything on it, often including malicious software.

    "The downside is that in order to use this system you have to agree to allow corporate IT administrative access to remotely wipe your device if lost or stolen, and have to agree to surrender your device in the event of some sort of IT incident so that it can be examined."

    And that's why I'm very unlikely to actually use my personal device in a company with a BYOD policy, and simply buy a separate device dedicated to work. Probably the cheapest thing that guidelines allow.

    "No software you already have will run on Windows RT tablets. Not a single application."

    Not all tablets will be WOA (I refuse to call it "Windows RT"). Many will be x86.

    "Keeping work and personal life separate is a compelling argument against BYOD"

    Indeed. Too many people basically destroy their lives becoming workaholics. And frankly, I see no reason to merge my work life with my personal life. Other than the occasional email, I don't combine my work with my personal life.

    I've yet to see a good listing of the benefits of BYOD anyways. I don't see why the rush to do such a thing.
    CobraA1
    • The next evolutionary step

      In our current crackberry society we are migrating from a Blackberry to BYOD....

      Actual work done outside this arena by BYOD? Not seeing it.
      rhonin
  • Two sides to a complex issue.

    The problem with BYOD is there is no "standard" for companies to deploy. There is a mix of security and mobile platforms as well defined use cases that are still being worked through.

    Right now the big things pushing BYOD:

    1. Employees want privacy to do their own thing, on their own device so they can facebook, text (sext), games etc. All without corporate oversight.

    2. Corporations have a demand to lower budgets and shift costs to employees. It seems like a win - win as employees buy the devices they want and they want to access work. Why buy the hardware?

    The issues are in the details as each BYOD program will differ and some companies provide a stipend and some will not. Some will apply security to your device (we do) which employees start to question "Is this my device anymore?"

    International data is a huge cost that employees are not aware of until they foot the bill, we've had many get stuck as we do not stipend or reimburse. There is no business justification forcing employees to check email, which knowing iPhone how do you know what data usage was for email vs. personal usage (internet, apps etc)? It doesn't work clean enough for most companies.

    There is also the huge issue around compensation which never gets brought up but is a real issue for hourly employees. Presently most companies restrict their BYOD program to salary employees. If you respond to an email after hours is that work? There needs to be federal / state guidelines on this. There is also the taxable income question related to stipend.

    My take being a mobility professional for 15+ years - I use what my employer provides and keep work separate from my personal life. Why should I use my own device? Why would I allow work to lock down my device? Remote erase it? Inventory what Apps I have installed? If work didn't provide me a device my day would end when I leave.

    The holy grail of one device for both worlds is a myth. It comes with compromise on both sides.
    MobileAdmin
    • indeed . . .

      "Some will apply security to your device (we do) which employees start to question 'Is this my device anymore?'"

      Indeed. Especially with policies like forcing device wipes and such. I personally would rather buy a separate device for work.

      "The holy grail of one device for both worlds is a myth. It comes with compromise on both sides."

      Indeed, and I think it's a bit of a myth that employees really benefit from BYOD policies, so I don't find it a "win-win."
      CobraA1
    • I agree

      Our company is starting to implement BYOD and from what I have seen it is nothing but a way to shift the cost of work to the employee. Granted there are a few that carry 2 phones with them but the vast majority only use the company supplied phone. Now if I will be expected to purchase the phone and the company will only pay at most the data portion of the the bill.
      I have told them I will keep my BB for as long as we have BES.
      The irony is that once we have to support every device made our cost will only be higher in the long run.
      harrim47