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Know when to leverage BYOD and when to forget it

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 Palador.com.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

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.

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