Jun 04 2012

How the Mobile Stampede Is Changing Business

The popularity of mobile computing is making its way into the workplace.

From executives interested in displaying the latest tech gear to workers used to mixing social and work activities, personally owned mobile devices are flooding the workplace. And it’s happening from the managerial suite to the factory floor, the principal’s desk to the classroom, or the postmaster’s office to the carrier on the street.

The consumerization of mobile technology has created an environment in which an organization’s employees can purchase powerful mobile devices for their personal use at a very low cost. This home-based exposure to mobile technology logically creates new expectations for the way people work, whether they’re in the office or on the road.

The variety of devices people use at home is also leaking into the workplace. Consider the impact on the enterprise of Apple’s product line. As Apple’s share of the consumer market grows, organizations are feeling more pressure from users who are familiar with those systems at home and want to use them for their office work.

And notebook computers aren’t the only type of portable device that users are demanding in the workplace. Smartphones and tablets, that often get their first workout on a couch in front of the TV, are making their way to the office. While the first reaction of many organizations may be to limit the flow of technology from the home to the office, that may not be practical because it can actually lower productivity.

In the workplace, users generally aren’t seeking new mobile platforms for their entertainment value. They truly want to increase their effectiveness by using tools that enhance their computing power.

The BYOD Revolution Is Here

Not only do many users expect to have the same types of mobile devices at home and at work, they expect to use the same device for both. In short, staffers are requesting access to the devices and apps they want, while getting the enterprise data and connectivity they need.

They want to simply purchase one device on their own and then use it to access both personal and corporate information. This growing trend is known as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach to enterprise computing. And when adopted, it allows access to enterprise networks, which in turn become a mixed environment of organizationowned and employeeowned devices.

There are four main trends driving the BYOD revolution in enterprise computing:

1. User Satisfaction

Techsavvy staff want flexible work environments that let them transition easily between their work and personal lives. They want to be able to update their Facebook status in between e-mail checks and conference calls. Implementing a BYOD policy increases employee satisfaction by allowing them to carry a tool for their job that lets them to jump seamlessly between work and personal computing.

2. Rapid Technology Advances

With many enterprises on a four- or five-year equipment-refresh cycle, employees often want to get their hands on new technology faster and don’t care if that means they have to open their own wallets to get it. BYOD can mean an organization’s staff always have the latest technology without increasing the frequency of technology investments.

3. An Increasingly Mobile Workforce

It’s not unusual to walk into a local coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon and see a wide range of individuals with notebook computers, tablets and smartphones, sipping coffee and flipping through work e-mail. Accommodating the needs of mobile workers is a major trend driving BYOD adoption.

4. Cost Savings

Quite simply, if employees bring their own computing devices to their jobs, the organization does not need to purchase hardware for them. In addition, the owner typically pays carrier charges for the device. Therefore, BYOD policies can wind up reducing hardware acquisition as well as carrier costs.

These four forces are driving many organizations to treat the BYOD trend as an opportunity. For example, Kraft Foods now offers employees a stipend to purchase their own computing devices, rather than purchasing devices for them. Employees who wish to purchase devices that exceed the stipend are free to do so out of their own pockets.

Other organizations adopting BYOD include CARFAX, Procter & Gamble, the Boulder Valley (Colo.) School District and the Veterans Affairs Department. These organizations also invested in security solutions that accommodate these policies.

For more information on mobile-device management, read the CDW whitepaper "Mobile Device Management: Not What It Used to Be."