BYOD: Five things businesses and IT need to know

Businesses must find secure, efficient ways to give employees access to corporate assets, while protecting data and business operations.

Commentary - The concept commonly referred to as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is trending. As the number of people accustomed to selecting and using their own devices and technology grows, companies must figure out ways to accommodate decentralization and loss of control. With this growing trend, CIO and IT decision makers are feeling pressure to transform their organizations to address the top-down push by executives and bottom-up demand by knowledge workers to support the consumerization of enterprise IT.

While businesses can save money by letting employees buy and support their own devices, they must then find secure, efficient ways to give employees access to corporate assets, while protecting data and business operations.

It’s clear that BYOD will continue to capture headlines, be the topic of executive meetings and create shifts within IT departments everywhere. So how do IT professionals ensure that their business and IT departments are ready for this shift? Here are the top five things they need to know:

Sign off
Decide if you want to have employees sign a waiver or contract in order to enforce password protection, anti-virus installation, and any other security measures to protect company data.

Support groups
With the decentralization of the device must come the decentralization of the support model for that device. The proliferation of BYOD necessitates the company’s IT support organization to adopt community support practices. It is unlikely that a traditional service desk organization will have the bandwidth or knowledge necessary to support a variety of devices. This would be immediately unscalable.

The beauty of BYOD is that employees no longer expect support from IT. They know how to get help elsewhere, allowing IT to focus on transformative activity that actually matters to the business. Social IT support and collaboration principles and technologies can help employees help themselves and each other. Support an environment where individuals can ask for help and get help. This evolved support model should act as a support facilitator by curating this content and making it searchable.

Choose your (de)vice
Traditional, platform-dependent software applications will create technology and data compatibility issues for the business. IT organizations must begin to ease the transition now by moving to cloud-based, platform-agnostic, extremely accessible applications now. In the meantime anticipate glitches and performance deviations while application modernization makes its way through the enterprise.

Terms & conditions
Will the company compose a BYOD terms & conditions contract about how the device can be used outside of work? This approach is a bit misguided. The business should spend more time worrying about the data and less time worrying about the device. A contract will create unnecessary work for the business and privacy concerns for employees.

Price limit
Determine how personal devices will be expensed. Will employees be responsible for all technology costs and maintenance, or will the company be expected to reimburse? If the company will be covering devices, is there going to be a price limit? For phone usage, how will the company differentiate between work-related phone charges and personal phone calls? Simplify the solution to any of these potentially tricky scenarios for best results.

It is clear that the BYOD movement is here to stay and will increasingly become more pervasive in business. So the question is: how will your business benefit from BYOD while still maintaining compliant, efficient and cost-effective ways to set employees and their productivity and technology free.

Brian Hollandsworth is a product marketing manager with ServiceNow. His 20+ years of experience span Customer Service, Technical Support, Consulting, and Management. Follow him on Twitter @ITSMBrian"