Why do businesses decide to adopt BYOD?
Why do businesses decide to adopt the practice of 'Bring Your Own Device,' allowing employees to use their own smartphones or tablets for work purposes? The answers to this BYOD question seem to vary widely, with much of the initial focus on consumer-based smartphones .
"A lot of users were carrying around two phones," says Brad Pierce, network engineer at tax planning and accounting firm Horne LLC, about why it moved completely to BYOD. In the past, the firm supplied BlackBerries to users. Horne expects employee-owned devices to be either Google Android or Apple iOS-based smartphones that can support encryption, plus run the mobile-device management software that Horne uses.
Networking giant Cisco doesn't supply smartphones to any employees anymore, unless their job falls under government regulatory restrictions where it's spelled out plainly that the employee must be using a corporate-issued device, says Steve Martino, vice president of information security at Cisco. The requirement to issue corporate-managed devices comes not only from the U.S. government, especially for classified work, but also from foreign governments, he points out. BYOD at Cisco is basically about trying to lower costs, but Martino argues that Cisco sees measured productivity gains of about 30 minutes per day per employee through BYOD.
Cisco is also permitting BYOD for iPads and some versions of Android, as long as they support the Cisco VPN.
At law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, the 600 or so attorneys are offered the option of BYOD on a voluntary basis and with a subsidy to keep it "cost-neutral" to whatever corporate-issued device that BYOD is expected to replace, says Rick Varju, director of engineering and operations there.
The decision for the law firm to venture into BYOD basically reflects "the whole consumerization of IT craze," Varju acknowledged, which in the firm's experience, was triggered by the "CIO getting an iPad." But BYOD for the hundreds of attorneys that might prefer it is being done at a measured pace, starting with a "one-on-one interview with a technology manager" to ascertain the mobility requirement, followed by specific policies to be signed. BYOD devices are being integrated into the law firm's VMware View and Citrix farm technology foundation.
Certified public accounting firm Burr, Pilger, Mayer also saw its move toward BYOD two years ago triggered by executives. "Senior executives in the firm were purchasing phones and asking them to support them," says Anthony Peters, manager of information technology, about the time. "At first we said no."
But resistance was futile, and now "the demand comes from everyone," Peters adds. Strict security policies and controls, as well as signed agreements about use, apply to BYOD these days. They have to since BYOD devices face the same audit requirements as corporate-owned devices.
But not all businesses are giving the thumbs-up to employee-owned devices.
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