BYOD: What should businesses consider?

By Alyson Edmunds, Mobility Expert at Telefónica UK

There’s been a lot of hype around bring your own device (BYOD), particularly in the USA. But a recent article from Computerworld shows they are already starting to see a downturn in the number of companies allowing and supporting BYOD practices. The survey also found that 19% of the businesses surveyed last year are no longer running BYOD schemes.

So why is this? One possible factor is cost.  I was never convinced that businesses would really make the savings they expected as many end users claim back business calls and data charges plus, as the devices still need to be secure, a mobile device or application management licence is also needed. And that’s without considering the support costs and potential data leakage.

The reality is, most end users feel that if they really need a device for work then it should be company funded – and most organisations agree. I find BYOD works best when the end user is given a choice to add corporate email or an app that will help with their job rather than a ‘you will do this’ approach. The survey from Computerworld also found more business are providing smartphones with 4G connectivity rather than basic feature phones. This is also true in the UK as companies are recognising the productivity gains they can get with smartphones. For example, the latest research commissioned by O2 in conjunction with YouGov, ‘Redefining selling, serving and working,’ found businesses are saving 9.4 million hours a week by using mobile to change the way they work.

BYOD may still be the logical choice to enable flexible working for a group of users, perhaps for partners, consultants or contractors. So if you’re pushing ahead with BYOD, it is important to plan thoroughly and apply best practice for a stress-free implementation. It’s not just about technical requirements – you will also need HR involvement to make sure your mobile policy is fit for purpose. Employees will need to understand what they are signing up to with BYOD. Can my employer see what sites I’ve been browsing? Can they see what apps I’ve downloaded? Or how much data I’ve used? These are questions employees want (and should) have answered within a well communicated mobile policy.

So if BYOD is the solution for your business, please consider the behaviour of your potential users in order to put in place the right policies and identify the full costs of the scheme before rushing in.

Does your business support BYOD? Why or why not? Tweet me @alyfairburn

For more about O2’s services for enterprise and public sector customers visit http://www.o2.co.uk/enterprise/services/byod-and-flexible-working