BYOD managers: Don't overlook the most important benefit of the program

BYOD is here to stay, as mobile devices have become both more productive and more personal. The key to making BYOD work is to build the program to serve both sides of the employees' needs without compromise.

iPad with keyboard folio

Those in charge of implementing corporate programs that allow workers to bring their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops to work (BYOD) are scrambling to figure out how to do that properly. It's not a matter of simply allowing personal devices into the workplace, it's a complicated process to design a program that meets the objectives of the company.

While important to protect the company's information, security, and access, it is equally important to meet the needs of the workers. Employees must have a reason to buy into such programs, as they are spending their own money for the gear.

Building a BYOD program that protects the company at the expense of allowing the worker to get the job done is doomed to failure. The selling point for employees to bring their own personal gear to work is two-fold: it's  familiar to the worker and it makes their job easier.

Designing a BYOD program that prevents the device owner from doing what they want with their phone or other gadget defeats the purpose of the process. It doesn't benefit either the company or the worker if the gadget can't be used normally. The ability to use the gear as desired for both personal and business functions is critical to get workers to enthusiastically buy into the program.

BYOD managers are going crazy determining the proper way to protect corporate network and information while keeping such information segregated from personal information on the devices. Different methods are being experimented with (including virtualization) to come up with the perfect way to keep worker's stuff separate from company stuff. Doing this is crucial to get BYOD programs successfully off the ground.

It is vital that this be done without restricting what employees can do on the personal side of the equation. The whole point of BYOD from the worker's perspective is to be able to use his/her device as desired for personal things. Locking this down will guarantee a knee-jerk resistance to the program. It is their investment after all.

There's not an easy answer to straddling the corporate/personal fence with BYOD programs. That's what is driving managers crazy trying to figure it out. It is important to recognize that personal use of such devices cannot be restricted in any way for BYOD to succeed in the long term.