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The Good and the Bad of BYOD

The concept of “Bring Your Own Computer” to work is gaining momentum in the industry, with more organizations allowing employees to determine what end node device they want to use to perform their duties.  The potential benefits include:

Now, there are also potential challenges, and they could include help desk / user support issues on unfamiliar hardware, compatibility issues at the OS or application level, and a dissolving of centralized IT controls.  The real question is, as with any other technology fork-in-the-road, do the benefits outweigh the costs?

The first step in considering a BYOC program is to validate the above potential benefits.  Ask the following questions:

Will my users be more productive if they have flexibility in device choice?  If so, what use-cases does it apply to the most?

Can I guarantee the safety of my data, my network, and the compliance requirements of my business and customers?

Will this result in improved sanity for my IT staff or drive them over the edge?

Does the concept allow me to truly reduce costs, become more efficient, and more attractive to talent?

How adaptable and responsible are my end users when it comes to technology?

Next, consider the technical implications.  In order to provide for the flexibility at the end node, you need to establish standards for delivery of application and data in the data center.  This may be via a secured remote access solution that limits the integration vectors of the end node, or it may be an application or desktop virtualization technology.  And don’t forget our friend the “Cloud.”  The business will need to be convinced that reduced controls on the end node are offset by enhanced security in the data center.

Support is the third leg of this stool.  Will you be solving support issues or introducing new voids in your support model?  While you can argue that removing IT from the decision on what device alleviates IT’s responsibility for support, in the real world you will still get the call, and will still have to assist on issues related to connectivity, usability, performance, and security.

Assuming you can overcome the business and technical challenges that would enable a BYOC program, you still have consider the impact of that program at an HR and legal level.  Is it concerning to your business if the user conducts non-business tasks on the same device used for corporate functions?  What if those tasks were personally or professionally offensive?  And, how will you know and/or measure them?

At the end of the day, a large component of BYOC comes down to trust.

In a manner of speaking, the support for BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) has eclipsed BYOC.  Companies have been allowing users to utilize their own phones as corporate devices for years.  And with the current crop of smartphones, is the underlying concept all that different for the PC?

A backlit keyboard.

Geoff Smith

Sr. Practice Director | Modern Workspace & Managed Services

Geoff has more than 30 years of experience working in all verticals and markets, from the SMB to the enterprise, focusing on the application of IT solutions that enable businesses to achieve their goals. As Practice Director of Managed Services and Modern Workspace, Geoff is focused on the development of co-sourced and federated Infrastructure Operations, Help Desk, Cloud, and Security Service Frameworks designed to optimize IT operations and drive economic value to the business.

Geoff helps develop new services and marketing strategies for the company, as well as provides strategy and support to GreenPages’ key clients. Prior to GreenPages, Geoff was the Director of Client Services for Managed Technology Partners, where he was part of an overlay team that architected a new services methodology, marketing strategy, and client acquisition model. Geoff’s professional certifications include CCSP, MCNE, and VTSP. Geoff earned a BS in Computer Science from Westfield State College.