These days – it doesn’t matter where you turn, every single news report about mobile talks about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Almost every week there is a new survey out, this one says 81% of companies are allowing BYOD, that one says that people are afraid about their privacy with BYOD, and another one talks about how many people have BYOD approved devices. Everywhere you turn, someone is telling you how you need BYOD strategy or that your mobile strategy should be BYOD. There are plenty of consultants who would love to lead you like a lamb to the BYOD slaughter that is waiting on the other sides of the vacuous strategy that they are putting in place.
I’ve written about business strategy and mobile strategy before, and it all comes down to the fact that you really don’t want a mobile strategy that stands on its’ own, you want a plan for mobile that fits into your business strategy. You need to figure out what the business objectives are and build your mobile architecture to meet the needs of the business.
This is where everyone makes the BYOD mistake. It is so easy to fall into the trap of creating a BYOD strategy. Most of the time it’s setup as a way for the company to save money, as they no longer have to pay the cost for the equipment. They may decide to pay some or all of the expenses on the phone, or in some cases none at all, but it really depends on how much they think they can sell to their users and move the costs off their own books. Let’s skip the point of why you would buy your own device, and pay for your own plan to do work for the business without them shouldering any of the costs. The real thing is that you are going to probably get some reimbursement and hopefully get to pick the device of your choice.
My question though, is what is the big freaking deal. Who pays for and owns a device isn’t a strategy, it’s a capital cost that someone pays, either the company or you as the employee (don’t forget the tax deduction if it’s a work tool). Yet, we think that it is a strategy over who has ownership of the phone. Does anyone else get how silly that sounds? We are spending inordinate amounts of time on the one question of ownership and we let it get in the way of all our planning.
You don’t build a strategy based upon who owns a device; you build a strategy that enables the business needs to be met by the users when and where they need to meet them. You build policies that enable your users to take advantage of their devices. These policies shouldn’t be radically different just because the company or the employee owns the device. These policies should be created in a way that ownership only effects a tiny fraction of the entire policy and the rest is built on protecting the IP of the company while at the same time enabling the user to get their work done and be productive.
Approaching a BYOD system is quite easy, you set up a hierarchy of ecosystems for the user to access, and depending upon the device choice of the user, they get somewhere between full access to the ecosystem to absolutely none. This is solely dependent upon the capability and controls built into the device. This tiered system gently guides the user towards making the right choices and will ease the burden of you help desks in supporting these users.
Those who think that enabling BYOD solves all their problems have no idea of the headache they are in for. The whole point of strategy is to make sure that the business can move forward, and if a mobile device can help that, great! Who owns the device…so what! Letting people loose in your work place without any thought on how they access and what they are going to access just means that your data can wind up anywhere and who knows if the user will be enabled.
Partner with the business, determine their needs and build a strategy with them to meet those needs. Create an on-going partnership with them, security, developers, legal, HR and the users and work to meet those needs with the best possible device. If you want to let the user pay for the device, so be it, but it doesn’t change the overall strategy.
Remember, BYOD isn’t mobile strategy; it’s who owns the device. Your goal is to create policies and an environment where you can enable the business to meet its goals.