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BYOD: the consumerization of IT

Many employers responded to the disruption caused by ‘consumerization’ of the IT workplace by embracing the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend. Essentially, BYOD has been promoted by three factors: (1) consumerization; (2) user frustration with devices procured by work; (3) desire to carry only one device.

BYOD has been successful in addressing these factors. Employees want the ease of carrying one device, and they want to decide what device to use. Understandably, very few companies can afford to give up on security, and employees are not ready to relinquish control of their personal devices. But BYOD comes with its own set of limitations:

Not a consumer phone: End users expect to be able to use their phone for work in the same way that they do in their personal life. However, IT departments are likely to block access or control some of the phones’ features in order to accept it into a BYOD scheme.

Not a ‘business client’ experience: With a personal device, it is up to the user to read the manual, contact customer support, etc. Disgruntled employees would soon complain to the IT department that they are not getting the support they need.

Not a Perk: Provisioning mobile devices shows that the company cares, trusts, and invests in its employees. With a BYOD policy, this disappears.

Not promoting mobility to skeptics: It is no more suitable when trying to roll out mobile technology to skeptical employees. On top of the reticence to be always available, there is now the feeling that a good user experience only comes to those willing to bring their own device.

Not the most efficient use of employee time: Being highly specialized individuals, we are likely to externalize some of our responsibilities. At work, we believe that our time is better spent on actual work rather than liaising with the network operator and insurance company to report a stolen device.

The benefits of BYOD – collaboration, flexibility, and everything that is enabled by technology – has more to do with device penetration and increased device usage than BYOD itself. If the idea is to take advantage of consumer technology, allowing a mix of devices, applications, and services that will maximize productivity without compromising guidelines, then why does it have to be BYOD?

Choose Your Own Device is certainly not a miracle solution but appears to be a more practical and realistic way to introduce consumer tech. With companies wanting to remain in control, Choose Your Own Device sees organizations continuing to provide smartphones and other technologies. The learning from BYOD is that benefits come come to those who let employees choose the device they want. A comprehensive list to choose from could very well address this need. Finally, because a device is a perk, and employees who also like to carry only one device will use work devices for personal reasons, organizations should simply consider enabling personal usage of work devices.

Looking for optimal solutions to manage both personal and work on one device has been a constant topic for GfK technology consumer and B2B research in the past few years. In the near future, it may be good to keep an eye on Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) and Samsung’s latest attempts to tackle the subject: The new BlackBerry® Balance™ and S4 Knox technologies are designed to separate and secure work and personal information on devices so that users can stay connected to both elements seamlessly.

To read the full article and our other B2B Tech Trends, please click here.

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