The jury is still out, but the rumblings are that Bring Your Own Device “BYOD” policies are lagging behind the popular embrace of the concept by many businesses.
Yes, there are problems with BYOD, but no one is blaming the concept. After all, the idea that employees can use their own devices for work and play makes a lot of sense, enabling millennials to surf the net on their iPads with a cup of chai on a grassy knoll somewhere at 2:00 on a Tuesday, only to be hammering away at the same keypad at 11:00 p.m. to meet Thursday’s deadline — work and play; same tools. We get it.
The problems, according to numerous studies, including a couple recently published by Gartner Group and Nucleus Research, occur when organizations allow BYOD primarily as part of a cost reduction strategy. According to Paul DeBeasi, research VP at Gartner “It just doesn’t work that way.”
There are several issues associate with BYOD, and business centers have a front row seat to all the action as they watch their clients struggle to balance the benefits against the complexities of BYOD. If you run a business center, it’s in your best interest to learn as much as possible about BYOD and pass along your knowledge to your tenants.
First, the devices themselves, while purchased by the employee, will eventually require upgrades to basic software programs and utilities. Who pays for the upgrades? DeBeasi suggests companies provide a stipend to each employee so that he or she can keep current. That makes sense but also costs money. So, what may look like an initial bottom line reduction can, in fact, amount to a net cost/employee that was not anticipated.
Secondly there is the support issue. How much corporate support should be provided for each device? Can this cost be pushed out to the employee? The key, according to DeBeasi, is to create a crystal clear policy that lays out the terms of support and who is responsible for what type and level of support; sort of a “this is what we support/this is what we don’t support” approach that, according to experts, has proven to be the most successful model.
While we’re on the subject of expenses, who pays the bills? Most business centers have technology in place to create detailed billing information for their tenants. But once in their hands, how do they break up the employees’ monthly telecom bills. What about all the other apps, software, contracts and “stuff” they have loaded on their tablets, laptops and smart phones? Again, the answer appears to be in setting a clear compensatory amount for each employee that is clear and fair. Attempts to break apart each bill and split up the costs are time consuming, inaccurate and prone to raising more issues than they resolve.
Yet amidst the BYOD piñata whacking, there remains a huge advantage to BYOD, reflective of a paradigm shift occurring across the world — the device as a productivity enabler; an extension of the employee. The days of shifting between ones home phone and the company phone are rapidly diminishing in favor of a work/life balance that encourages the kind of innovative thinking that tends to occur outside the 9 to 5 work day. If allowing employees to keep their familiar personal communications tools and use them to contribute to the company helps increase their productivity, isn’t it worth taking the time to navigate a new set of rules and company protocol to make this happen?
Organizations which stop looking at BYOD through the cost reduction lens and move towards gaining a better understanding of what motivates a new generation and style of employee, may find their time and effort well rewarded. Business centers, in turn, can help by reaching out to help their clients adopt clear policies to support BYOD, where it makes sense to do so.
What are your thoughts about BYOD? Are your clients using it to push out the boundaries of “business as usual”? We’d like to know.