There's only one business case for BYOD -- Productivity

There's only one business case for BYOD -- Productivity

Summary: The movement to let employees use their own gadgets for work is growing, with more companies big and small letting personal devices into the cubicle. While some companies see BYOD as a cost saving, that's not a good reason to embrace BYOD.

BYOD gear

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon has only been around for a short while, and it is growing all the time. What started with some employees pushing to use their personal smartphones for work has expanded to include tablets and notebooks. Some enthusiasts like to use their own gear at work, and more and more companies are adopting the practice for different reasons.

Whether a company is a Fortune 500 firm or a little startup, there is really only one reason to allow employees to BYOD. Increased productivity from workers using their own precious gadgets is the only reason to do it.

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The practice shouldn't be viewed as a way for the company to save money, and I hear from folks every day that see this at work. No, companies should only allow employees to use their own gadgets if it makes them more productive at work.

No matter how informally companies approach BYOD, there are long-term ramifications and costs that will be a result. Security is a big consideration, as employees expect freedom when using gear paid for out of their own pocket. They won't take kindly to a corporate lock-down of their phone or tablet.

Allowing workers to bring their own gear to save the small company money is the worst reason of all for BYOD. This is business, and companies must pay their own way to play. Putting the burden of buying gear on the employees is going to backfire at some point. People are quick on the uptake, and once they figure out you're taking advantage of them your morale will tank.

Companies large and small are trying to figure out how to implement BYOD in the best way for their business. The security issues are not trivial, and support of personal gadgetry a potential nightmare for the enterprise. Most companies will come to realize that letting workers bring their own gear costs them money in the long run.

While it may seem to be a morale booster to let employees use their own iPhones and Android phones, the benefits to the company of doing so are quite small. Especially when you compare those benefits to the potential problems it creates.

If bringing their own gear to work results in a big jump in productivity, then and only then will the practice reap rewards. All other benefits are trivial and potentially costly to the company in the long run. This is no different than any other practice affecting the employees.

We've been grousing about the choice of inferior hardware our companies foist upon us for years. But we've used it productively because it was required of us to do so. That hasn't changed just because of BYOD. The bottom line is what is in the company's best interest?

Topics: Mobility, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Absolutely agree, James.

    The whole reason companies haven't, in the past, been requiring users to bring their own laptops (for example), is exactly because the control over the hardware helps control the security and network resources in the office.

    BYOD is really an extension of this same philosophy, and I think we're going to see it morph from being "Bring your own device" to something that more closely resembles "Select your own device", where users have greater input on the tools they need to work, and the company supplies (and subsequently, controls) those tools.

    I've already been seeing this with my company and a number of companies that I have consulted for. We have a couple of early adopter clients and a couple of consultants that were eager to connec their iPhones and Android phones to the Exchange server, mainly to check emails and update calendars on the road. Now that we're seeing the advantages of these devices, but the disadvantages of not controlling these devices, we're still embracing the technology, but providing it as part of the job, rather than having the users bring the devices in.
  • Then BYOD is dead.

    Well, there goes the only reason BYOD even exists. It's dead, Jim. Quit foisting it as the greatest thing ever.
  • Where's the metrics?

    I have yet to see one report showing anyone is more productive due to BYOD, if anything they are LESS productive as they spend all their time trying to make their device of choice work properly, get connected etc. The lone reasons people want BYOD are:

    1. They are able to buy better technology faster and cheaper than enterprise but don't have the burden of large scale deployment and support

    2. They want to circumvent the security / compliance controls enforced on corporate devices

    The idea of BYOD is all lollipops and roses until they understand what they are now responsible for and start to grasp the costs they now must deal with. It's easy to allow a device for checking their email / calendar but as you expand to full enterprise integration it starts to fall apart and you either impose more controls onto their device or stunt the device with solutions like VM, Citrix etc.

    BYOD will see limited adoption until the legal, liability, compensation and privacy issues are resolved. Until than it's a lot of work for little results.
  • Claimed productivity

    As MobileAdmin said, where are the metrics?

    Worse, security and other concerns - of which some are just starting to come out of the woodwork - will put the kibosh on BYOD very quickly.

    And I suspect some will not like the idea of, having spent tens of thousands for a college degree, to now have to buy the equipment the workplace demands... add in the typical wage being offered and it only gets that much harder for the working class to keep up, on top of every other excuse the employers love to find... this redistribution and delegation to the worker, in an age of shrinking wages, will just be another piece of a possible collapse.

    Still, as long as the infrastructure costs are less than employees - you know, the dumbwads who spend which in turn creates the real profit that keeps businesses going - the employees will lose out...
  • there are times it makes sense

    I work remotely for a west coast company and live on the east coast. They provide a t-mobile blackberry or will reimburse for a device you provide. T-mobile has horrible coverage in my area so I am much more productive with my verizon droid. I also attach my asus tablet to their exchange. Allowing them control to encrypt and wipe is reasonable since I have business info on both devices. Employees that want byod and no restrictions are living in fantasy land.