Harnessing BYOD's missed possibilities

Before you completely reject the 'bring your own device' trend as a passing fad, consider the opportunities that lie in systems that support a BYOD set-up.

So, you’ve dismissed the BYO revolution as fad. That, or you believe that BYO will cost too much to support.

That you shouldn’t do however is throw the baby out with the bath water. You’ll still find a lot of value in the policies and systems that have been coming through the pipe to support these programs.

First, consider an app store. The idea of a corporate application store has been around for quite some time, but until it took root in consumer space it never really took off. Now, providing a private app store to your user base can provide immediate and great benefits.

Consider the amount of time that goes into a user attempting to install new software, or discovering what software may be better utilised for their business use. Hours every month are wasted by users logging tickets with the IT help desk to get their software installed or updated.

By implementing an internal system for application discovery and installation self-service, users are more empowered by the tools IT have given them and the burden on the help desk is reduced.

Second, provide more hardware choices to your users. By sticking with a single vendor (such as HP, Lenovo or Dell) you’re ensuring that you get good purchasing prices, good support and turnaround times. However, you no longer need to have a single hardware model for your users if they don’t need it. Start to match hardware specifications to roles. For example, sales representatives would be better suited to light notebooks with great battery life, while finance should have desktop PC’s with a bit more grunt. With the latest systems management tools the deployment and management of these different systems is simple and efficient.

Third, it’s also time to update old security policies that are more focused on data rather than system security. Everyone is worried about leaving iPhones in the back of taxis , but what if one of your current laptops got left in the back of a cab? Do you have enough data security policies to cover lost devices and for data to either be safe (via encryption) or wiped from a lost device? Does your current workstation management stack allow for management over the internet so that when a lost laptop has access to the internet it checks back home?

Most SOEs (Standard Operating Environments) focus on tight security to minimise support calls and ensure corporate standards. Windows is advancing as an operating system and great new software can separate not only user profiles but user-installed applications, allowing for a tightly controlled SOE image that also gives users more flexibility around their profile and applications. This also gives users some more responsibility for their systems. For example, it lets them add printers from home, or connect to different wireless networks. A lot of IT teams still lock an image down (especially on notebooks) so much so that users are unable to join their wireless network at home!

Cloud enabled services such as Dropbox, Salesforce and others are rapidly gaining momentum not only with consumers but also in business. If an employee has a corporate smartphone they can easily utilise these services in the same way they could if they were on a BYOD program. Helping these users by providing and recommending cloud-style internal services such as better file sharing (rather then just a file server), Mobile Instant Messaging Clients and other business productivity tools will enable users to be more efficient from their mobile device.

You don’t need to set up a BYO program if it doesn’t suit you, but in this new era all IT Managers and CIOs should consider setting up a set of services that give their users a new and improved desktop experience rather than the same old corporate desktop.