So a colleague shared a very interesting article about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trials the other day. The conclusion was that it raised some useful points but was possibly a bit of a straw man, seeing as it was published by an organisation which stood to gain a great deal of extra revenue if BYOD is adopted on a large scale.
What do we do with straw men? We set them on fire on top of a hillside and dance around them. Ready? Got your matches? Let’s go …
Here are 10 reasons why bring your own device (BYOD) culture might not work for your customers.
1. Staff resent paying for their own phones, laptops or tablets.
Oh, really? I already have my own device. It’s already paid for, I already use it, I got exactly what I wanted, it works great and it’s shiny and responsive and useful and MINE. If my company wants to give me a token payment of, say, £100 towards it I’d be very happy to accept it, but otherwise they can butt out. Nothing makes me more resentful than being mistakenly told I’m resentful.
2. Businesses lose the ability to cut costs through bulk buying, they can end up paying over the odds for call and data plans, for example, if staff claim these costs back as expenses.
Don’t let ’em claim that back then. Anyway, we all know how cost-effective those bulk plans are compared to the deal you can get as a private individual at the phone shop. Many people prefer to arrange their own package anyway – and if it’s on their own private device, they actually can.
3. It can make life harder for the IT department – they will still be the first point of call when things go wrong.
Right. A department full of bright, helpful, well-educated IT professionals won’t be able to think of some way of sharing knowledge about the quirks of iPads vs Android devices, or troubleshooting connectivity issues. If only there was some kind of model for a user forum with tech support … we could call it ‘Anyhoo Answers’, and people could email in their problems, and thousands of geeks worldwide could submit suggestions, and … oh, hold on *takes call from legal team* ok, wait, never mind.
4. Allowing BYOD can unintentionally create an uneven playing field between staff in your organisation. If one worker spends a lot of money on a high-end device …
Bah. I can’t even be bothered to quote the whole section here. If I work with the sort of people who are going to resent each other because they can’t afford an iPad like so-and-so got, then shoot me now. This one feeds right into the argument about consistency. Consistency is good because everybody gets the same. Consistently unfit for purpose, consistently unreliable, consistenly slow, consistently out-of-date – how does that make me happier? Other than being abe to bond with my equally miserable colleagues over how ridiculous it is to be using tools that are 15 years out of date. Not trying to frighten anyone, but that’s how revolutions get started.
5. Security is one of the biggest issues with BYOD because allowing consumer devices onto corporate networks brings significant risks – unless managed correctly.
Um, yes? Manage it correctly then. I have absolute faith in our ICT people to do this really really well, and to set appropriate controls around the different types of access we might need for different scenarios.
6. There is the risk that sensitive data could be placed on staff devices, and lost.
Yes. Yes, there is. What do we do with risks? We manage them. Again, I’m very confident that we can find a way to prevent this or minimise the risk that doesn’t involve locking everybody down to standardised one-size-fits-absolutely-nobody equipment and policies.
7. … if staff make bad choices and their new kit doesn’t perform as they hoped … if their work performance suffers because they’ve chosen bad tools … they can’t collaborate effectively ….
And again, Bah. Given my fairly limited knowledge of platforms other than the ones I use, I could be wrong, but surely there are enough ways of sharing documents and data across all the options that this shouldn’t even be an issue? Maybe we need to educate people on the best ways to do this, sure, but to say that it’s a significant barrier shows, in my opinion, a lack of resolve rather than a lack of solutions.
8. It’s a licensing – and legal – minefield.
My device, my license, my software, my issue. If I’m using a virtual desktop, then my company should have that licensing aspect covered. If I use my own device for something naughty, no matter where I am, I’m liable. If I try to use the virtual environment – on any device – to do something naughty, it should be preventable. Is there more to it than that? What did I miss?
9. Consumer devices will hurt productivity – There’s a reason why business devices are boring –they’re for business, not pleasure.
Indeed. Because we’re all five years old, and if you’re not watching us the whole time we’ll spend the whole day playing Angry Birds or something. Well, call me bolshy, but if I work for people who think I can’t be trusted to work unless I’m either under surveillance or barred from accessing anything non-approved, then bye-bye. It’s not 1960 any more and we know how to manage people according to output rather than activity. Don’t we?
10. Your Corporate phone contract may suffer.
Translation: Your corporate phone contract provider hasn’t figured out a way to make money out of you using this model yet. Give it time. And while we wait for them to catch up, let people pay for the package that suits them on their own device and which will probably be cheaper and more effective than anything you could have arranged for them anyway.
I’m a little disturbed by how much I enjoyed watching that burn. And what do we conclude? That there will be barriers, and technical considerations, but if we approach them armed with insulting, ugly, divisive stereotypes about obstructive IT staff and lazy, ignorant users we have no chance of creating a workable solution.