Foresight pays off for BYOD pioneer Citrix

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Citrix has been running a BYOD program since 2008, before most of us even had a smartphone. The company saw an opportunity to leverage its own technology and give employees the power of choice over their equipment.

Citrix CIO Paul Martine says that back in 2008, it wasn't about phones so much as laptops -- and the company thought it could save money and demonstrate its technology at the same time. "The primary focus was associate satisfaction and cost savings. Our employees told us they wanted to choose a laptop that was outside of what IT was offering as managed devices."

He added, "Our technology supports this program so it was an easy transition. We reduced the dependency on IT since the employees now purchase their device and can ready their BYO laptop to securely connect to our infrastructure."

The company set up a website for employees that explained the rules of the BYOD program, how to register the device, and how get the stipend, as well as how to ready their device to connect to applications, virtual desktops, and data.

He found the company saved about 20 percent on the cost of laptops, with employees empowered to choose the machine they want instead of a standard-issue device. The stipend is good for three years at which point employees can enter the program again if they wish.

Today the program has expanded to include smartphones and tablets as well as laptops, with 100 percent of employees participating in the BYOD program for smartphones, 35 percent for tablets, and 25 percent for laptops.

For phones, the company provides a $200 stipend. "We [also] offer the corporate calling plan and leverage the usage across all employees. We can keep a consistent cost per smartphone since we can share the usage across all employees and provide the flexibility of choosing the smartphone that best suits the needs of our employees," Martine explained.

As for tablets, instead of offering a stipend, Citrix allows employees to bring in their personal tablets to work and connect to the enterprise infrastructure using Citrix software. "The informal program of this overall initiative allows employees to bring in any personally owned tablet device they like since our technology provides a way to connect safely and securely to applications, virtual desktops, and data."

Martine said the initial push for the program came from above and below at Citrix. "Our CEO Mark Templeton initiated the push for the program in 2008. He felt it was a great example of showcasing our own technology and it was also a response to our employee base that felt their productivity would increase if they were using the laptop that best suits their needs," he said.

He says employees are much happier choosing their devices, and that has made them much more productive. 

With the BYOD program firmly established, the focus of IT has shifted from device management to managing the services on the device -- change that makes Martine happy. "I would never want to go back to trying to manage every laptop, smartphone, and tablet. I much prefer managing the service we deliver to those devices and give our employees the flexibility to choose what works best for them," he said.

Ultimately, moving to BYOD has reduced employee dependence on IT and resulted in users who take more responsibility for their own technology usage. And over the four years the program has been running, he has seen no increase in such issues as virus outbreaks or trouble tickets that would indicate employees are having problems.

As an early mover, Citrix serves as a benchmark for what happens when BYOD is done right.

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