A few years ago, it suddenly became a lot more difficult to keep tabs on mobile devices and support them. The chief cause of these growing pains was the increased support for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies among companies of all sizes.
Under BYOD initiatives, organizations allow employees to use their personal devices for work purposes.
A number of businesses even provide workers with a stipend toward the purchase of a new smartphone, tablet or notebook of their choice.
While BYOD has empowered workers and boosted productivity, the downside of the movement was that it presented a growing burden on IT departments. IT leaders no longer had complete control over what mobile devices workers used and what they could do with them.
Fortunately, that time of flux is now behind us, and BYOD adoption has surged. It is interesting that BYOD adoption is happening quickly among small businesses, according to a recent IDC study.
“This is a marked change from only a year ago, when close to half of small firms cited having a zero-access BYOD stance,” says Chris Chute, research director with IDC’s Global SMB Transformative Technology Research practice.
“Now, with the availability of hosted software and easy-to-implement mobile solutions, SMB IT managers feel much more comfortable allowing personal devices access to internal IT resources.”
So what has propelled BYOD from an IT burden to a tool of empowerment for SMBs? Chute attributes the shift to the adoption of hosted software and easy-to-deploy mobile device management (MDM) software.
Popular MDM packages support every major mobile OS and nearly every conceivable smartphone and tablet on the market. These products enable IT managers to inventory mobile hardware and applications; configure and manage OSs and app policies; deploy, update and remove apps; remotely view, control and troubleshoot mobile devices; and manage content and access to those devices.
Organizations also have embraced a variety of other measures to secure their mobility initiatives.
As CDW’s 2013 Mobility at Work Report finds, 15 percent of companies use partitioning to control a portion of personal mobile devices, 22 percent limit the applications employees can load on personal devices, and 24 percent use location tracking to recover lost or stolen devices. Those security measures supplement more common management practices such as implementing guidelines for the use of personal mobile devices.
It’s not just about technology. Mobility requires cultural changes too. For a BYOD policy to be truly successful, the company must become less paternalistic and more empowering of employees.
IT managers must let go of the notion of command and control, and instead embrace the role of systems integrator and enabler. Empower users to collaborate and achieve efficiencies through cross-platform integration, applications, browser-based access and virtualization.
Consider offering training on how to use the array of available mobile devices as well as the software and apps that can help users perform their duties more effectively. It’s only with the support of IT that users can work more efficiently, anytime and anywhere.
By ceding a bit of control and allowing employees to have a say in what devices they use, businesses are reaping the benefits of mobility like never before. To ensure the highest payoff, why not go a step further and make workers partners in the process?