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What’s at stake with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

byod

When it comes to having success with Bring Your Own Device(BYOD), you definitely need to understand the technology, but that’s really just the starting point. Presuming that’s in place, you need to be proactive, not reactive. When thinking about the ultimate goal – unified communications (UC) adoption – this is essential. Only the most tech-savvy employees will pick up on UC by themselves, but the rest won’t even know it’s there until you do some educating and marketing.

IT has ample motive to do that, since UC was likely their idea in the first place. Management is often skeptical about UC’s business value, and if so, IT can’t afford to sit back and hope for the best.  While the need for this doesn’t go away, BYOD requires a proactive response for entirely different reasons.

As important as UC may be to your business and/or network plans, you can’t overlook BYOD as a driver for adoption.  To address that, you need to understand why it’s important to be proactive. With BYOD, it’s not about staying on top the technology. Nor is it about cost control – although that’s a valid secondary concern. What’s really at stake is overall control – for both parties.

For all the benefits that can come with BYOD, there is a Wild West element that makes anyone in IT uncomfortable. If your legacy roots run deep, this is not what you’re used to, and BYOD takes an ongoing trend to another level. The Internet set this in motion by creating a self-serve environment, and of greater relevance to BYOD, VoIP marked the first time end users could have a lot of control over telephony. More to the point, being a data application, VoIP has now become as user-centric as any other communications mode – and by extension, less dependent on IT.

If you have had VoIP for a while, you have probably accepted that by now, and for the most part, the world hasn’t fallen apart. After all, the control end users now have with VoIP allows them to work more effectively, and they don’t bother IT very much for things they can easily do on their own. In this regard, sharing control with end users isn’t really such a bad thing.

What you need to do

BYOD is very different, mainly because of the endpoints. Not only do employees have full control over their operation, but they own them, giving IT few options if any to share in that control. The only true control IT has here is allowing these devices to access the network. However, you can’t just give employees a little access – they’ll need more than that in order for BYOD – and UC – to deliver worthwhile results.

As such, you need a proactive approach where the rules of engagement are spelled out from the start. BYOD will unfold too quickly to figure this out as you go, or worse, defer to employees and let them make the rules. In that regard, here are three areas you need to set the rules to ensure you establish and maintain control – at least enough for BYOD to be effective.

  1. Device management

Employees may bear the cost for devices they bring into the workplace, but that’s just the starting point. You need to spell out policies around device upgrades, OS and software upgrades, replacement, loss, theft, damage, etc. All of these have cost implications, and a fair balance needs to be struck between the employee’s sense of ownership and responsibility.

  1. Data ownership

The real business value for BYOD lies in the data and applications used on those smart devices. On personal time, employees have no restrictions about data since it’s “theirs”. At work, however, the data is “yours”, and owning the device doesn’t apply here. This is where responsible usage is so important, otherwise data will get lost or end up in the wrong hands. To some extent you can control this with IT policies, but at some point, BYOD users will be carrying business data.

  1. Privacy and security

This area actually applies to both parties. Employees have an obligation to protect company data, but employers must also do the same for personal data carried on those devices. Furthermore, each party must respect privacy and not abuse this via the access afforded via BYOD.

Conclusion

This might sound pretty basic, but it’s one of the most important drivers of success with BYOD. Prior to VoIP, IT could be pretty passive when deploying new technology. At that time, IT held control over the network and applications, meaning that employees were simply end users, with everyone being treated the same. Not only are employees more tech-savvy now, but they’re empowered users, and often know more about the latest applications than IT.

While it’s important for you to maintain control over the process of defining these rules, your strategy will be more effective if developed in collaboration with employees. They should have a hand in crafting these rules, but ultimately these are your rules. Just keep in mind that BYOD isn’t about taking control back or away from end users – it’s about sharing that control so both parties can benefit from bringing BYOD into the UC fold.

At easySERVICE, we focus on building and designing the most appropriate infrastructure to meet the unique needs and characteristics of your individual business. With our help, enterprises look to gain access to talent that they may not have or want to farm out their activities to IT specialized firms that they feel can do a better job in IT related services.

If you’d like to discuss any of the above best practices or lessons learned with us or to learn more about how we are partnering with companies just like yours to ensure the availability of mission-critical applications, please contact us at (855) US STELLAR.

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