Top Ten Considerations When Investing in BYOD

By Chris Reily, Director of Solutions Architecture

Every year has its own special IT acronym and 2013 has been no different. During client meetings, in the pages of IT trade publications and on the minds of vendor partners – the term BYOD pops up more frequently than Psy’s “Gangham Style” does on pop radio. For the record, Psy is the smartly dressed Korean pop music sensation sporting Risky Business-style Ray Bans as opposed to the (also trending) bearded Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty (reality-TV) fame. If this is all meaningless to you, you’ve been working too hard. Ask your family, they miss you.

Consumerization of IT is finding its way into the enterprise rapidly. Choice, personalization and mobility are no longer simply appreciated but are ultimately demanded. BYOD in theory sounds like a terrific plan and if executed properly can be an outstanding component of an end user computing (EUC) solution in many environments. Success however goes far beyond an employee stipend and flexibility in choice. BYOD is not for every organization and even in those organizations where it makes sense, it’s not for every employee. Here is a list of the top ten considerations when investigating a BYOD solution for your organization:

  1. What are the core applications you need to deliver to end users? Are these applications supported by recommended or allowed devices? What are the corporate use cases?
  2. Will your infrastructure support connectivity and desktop/application delivery to new devices on your network? Storage, compute and network – it all matters.
  3. Do you have the budget to support this initiative? Hint: it will be more than you expect. Hint #2: don’t expect to “save money” (at least in the first year). The ROI (return on investment) may come but expectations inside 36 months are unrealistic.
  4. Who needs what? Organizations are diverse and dynamic. Not every employee will need to be part of a BYOD initiative. Different categories of associates will have varying device needs. The road warrior sales guy, administrative assistant and mechanical engineer will all have different needs.
  5. A well-executed plan will drive employee job satisfaction. Figure out how your team will deal with happy IT-using employees; it may be a new experience for all involved.
  6. Are you ready to set policy and stick to it? There will be challenges that make you question what you were thinking in the first place. Get managerial support and be confident.
  7. Be flexible. Sure, this may seem somewhat contrary to comment #6. Of course you’ll encounter situations where the intelligent response is to modify and improve.
  8. Get “buy in” from the board room and the corner office(s). The support of senior management and investors is critical; don’t even go there without serious majority support.
  9. Seek advice and approval from legal, accounting and human resources. Ask the art department and maintenance team too if you think it can help.
  10. Talk to others. I know this is hard for many of us who have spent careers in IT, but give it a shot and see what happens. Speak to partners who have delivered BYOD solutions. Reach out to similar organizations who have implemented their strategy. Heck, speak with companies who tried it and failed. Arm yourself with information, do your research.

This is a lot to digest. A poorly executed implementation has the surety of employees abandoning the program. Small steps and a detailed approach work best – don’t be afraid of running test groups and proof of concept (POC) trials. The risk of not exploring your options may leave your IT environment seeming as outdated as last decade’s pop dance craze. Is your organization considering BYOD? Have you already implemented a policy? If so, how has your experience been?