Know when to leverage BYOD and when to forget it

Know when to leverage BYOD and when to forget it

Summary: Do you really need a BYOD program or are you simply joining the trend because it's a trend? Find out more information from BYOD expert, Benjamin Robbins of


BYOD and mobile device management is all the rage these days. And, it's no wonder with almost every human on the planet using a cell phone, tablet or laptop; it's big business. At some point, employees might want to use their own mobile devices on the company network. But, is it a good idea? Do you need a BYOD plan? What if you decide not to go BYOD--does it mean that you're an albatross? Are there any companies that have scrapped their BYOD programs because they're too expensive to maintain?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Benjamin Robbins of Palador and I came away with a new perspective and an education on BYOD and mobile device management. 

For example, did you know that IBM found that its BYOD program is costing the company too much money? Are you surprised? I was. Benjamin was not. Why? Because he's in the business of assisting companies with their "Go to Mobile" and BYOD programs. He's in the trenches with real companies and he feels their pain and sees the results, negative and positive, of technology moves like BYOD.

Of course, it's not all bad news, he's helped many companies design and implement BYOD programs with great success. 

If you're thinking of starting a BYOD program purely based on cost savings, you might want to consider some other method. Benjamin and I agree that BYOD can save money but, if that's your only motivation, perhaps you should look elsewhere for cost cutting ideas.

Using a technology just because it's popular or new is a mistake. According to Robbins, you have to first figure out what problem you're wanting to solve with BYOD. 

In fact, to clarify his position, Robbins made the following four points about implementing BYOD:

1. Companies should not approach BYOD from a cost perspective, but rather a capability perspective. They should look at what it would mean to the business if all employees were mobile-enabled due to personal devices being allowed on the company network. Companies should permit BYOD as a means to mobile-enable those roles who are not identified as requiring a company-provisioned mobile device. BYOD represents one potential path for organization to transform how they do business.

2. BYOD from a company perspective allows organization the ability to further leverage the infrastructure (wireless, device management, application management, cloud services) that they have already invested in with relatively small incremental costs.

3. If companies are willing to provide the full suite of capabilities and employees willingly opt-in to an organizations BYOD program, then both parties can have a win-win experience. If I, as an employee, feel as though I am able to perform my work in a fashion I desire than it won’t feel like the company is taking advantage of me. That is why it is imperative that organizations approach BYOD as a capability discussion rather than a cost discussion--it changes the point of reference from one of taking advantage of the employee and their devices to that of understanding how a company can help to enable the employee.

4. Companies that have mission critical roles, such as sales, where function, image, and capability is vital to how the business functions should never look to BYOD as an answer to device provisioning. This, again, is an example where thinking in terms of capabilities is paramount. It's bad business to have employees fail to deliver or fail to perform a function because the organization is relying on that ‘cute’ or ‘cool’ device that the employee decided to purchase but is the wrong tool for the job. There are times when BYOD is just plain a bad idea. Don’t be cheap when you need to be right.

My thanks to Benjamin Robbins for his time and input for this timely topic.

So, the question is, "Is BYOD a good idea or a bad idea?" The answer is, "Yes." But the question might change depending on your individual circumstances. 

If you'd like to hear our conversation about BYOD and gain even more insight into the possibilities that await you, hit my Frugal Networker site and listen to our podcast discussion.

Related Articles:

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Topics: Consumerization, Mobility


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Where's the evidence to back this up?

    I have seen Good software put in my company for using their own phones... After testing, everyone else just ignored the program... there has been no other BYOD in any company I have worked for and most of my friends don't have it either.
    • One example...

      We were a blackberry only shop, usually providing the base Blackberry model (free with subsidies, or close to it) to those users who were approved for mobile use. The problem was, many of our users either wanted or already had iPhones (some elected to have a Firm device and still carry a personal device/account). So we evaluated MDMs and once satisfied one met our needs for iPhone and Android, we gave users the option of a company issued Blackberry or an iPhone/Android of their choosing (providing it was compatible with our selected MDM). We then set a reimbursement program up for those maintaining personal accounts where they were eligible to be reimbursed up to the amount equivalent to the per user cost of users on the company's account. That's for monthly voice and data. We don't reimburse for hardware since they do have the option of a free company issued phone that provides the same capabilities (for company purposes, at least) We're a pretty basic shop right now, so mobile access is mainly e-mail, calendar and contacts.

      End result, users are happier since they can have a device of their preference and can carry a single device for work and personal use. From a cost standpoint, there are some year 1 costs for the MDM that bump us up over what we would have payed just continuing maintenance on BES only, but after year one, the licensing costs are comparable. While not factored into the decision to go this route, the realization on reimbursement is roughly 75% of what employees are eligible for, so we end up paying a little less on monthly voice/data service fees since about 1 in 4 don't actually submit for reimbursement in any given month.

      Our goal wasn't to save money, it was to provide users with choice and convenience of a single device while maintain a level of security our company was comfortable with. While some in tech circles consider BYOD crazy, on smart phones, you need to recognize that if your requiring people to be always connected, you have to make some compromises. My company's business isn't 9-5, and our workforce has a fair amount of mobility, working from the road and/or home. If you're expecting your employee to answer a phone call or e-mail while he's at his kids little league game, you have to make some concessions too, you can't just chain a Blackberry to their leg. And, if you give them some say in the matter, they might actually pay closer attention when the phone rings with a work number or e-mail.

      We did strive to make it cost neutral to the company and the employee, which we accomplished, except for those eligible for reimbursement who don't submit their bills.
  • Look beyond cost and security issues

    As usual, when a new technology enters IT, the focus tends to be costs and security impacts. No doubt those are things that need to be dealt with, but a strategy should be built on the beneficial outcome of enabling technologies such as mobile.

    Remember w/ the World Wide Web first appeared? The discussions were around costs and security. ;)
  • Strategy is important!

    Opting for BYOD or HTML5 etc are based on strategy that an organization can arrive at only after the due diligence. The target customer, their device profile and future market adds more weight. I had written about it last month which might be useful.