Supporting staff who want to bring their own devices and applications to work may be a pain for many CIOs, but the business benefits make implementing a program worth the time and effort, according to Dimension Data's CIO Ian Jansen.
Speaking at the recent BYOD 2012 Informa event in Sydney, Jansen said although mitigating risk and managing hardware, infrastructure and security costs can be a challenge, there are four key business benefits to having a bring-your-own (BYO) workplace.
Jansen told attendees that BYO devices and applications that are not tied to the desktop allow workers to access information in real time when it is most needed to help improve decision making. They also allow staff who work remotely "in the field" to collect data for further analysis.
"Our approach has been to look at it from the point of view of somebody walking around with tablet X, Y or Z in the field...They [can] access that when they get home from work and they want to check stats for when they are preparing for a meeting the next day," he said.
"People can make decisions on their flight [in real time], while they are travelling with information that makes a difference, that supports better quality decisions."
"We now look at applications from a mobility-first perspective. We are currently looking at a whole bunch of business intelligence changes inside our business and how we can enable our business with the next generation of business intelligence."
Long-term cost savings
There are upfront costs in getting BYO up and running in the workplace, but there are also potential long-term savings that could benefit an organisation, Jansen said.
He said BYO can enable a mobile workforce and hot-desking which could save on office space. He said the costs poured into migrating desktop computers and critical infrastructure as part of a relocation, as well as staff disruption can be expensive, particularly for large, growing organisations.
"When I think about the cost in disruption our business would have to bear from relocating our offices to another location that had more space it would be absolutely huge," he said.
"[Fit-out] costs, disruption to people, actual project costs, infrastructure costs, the duplicate pass of network that we would need to operate for a period of time. How many people would we lose if we shifted? That whole ability for people to come out and come in very quickly is becoming much more relevant in our business."
Jansen said using BYO for staff retention is "a very strong component" in terms of making a business case as it allows staff greater work flexibility.
"When you think about the challenge of keeping great people in your business some of the things that we've needed to do is change our work habits so we can get people to come back after they have gone on and started families or their circumstances change.
"[BYO and mobility] can keep them in our business, keep them working, keep them productive, and [we do] not have to go through the process of having to go off and to find someone else...pay all the recruiting fees, go down this whole journey of teaching a new person how to operate in our company and bring them up to speed."
Keeping up with a mobile workforce
The greater efficiency in staff communication, collaboration and customer responsiveness that mobility can offer is not to be ignored, Jansen said. He said BYO is a way of keeping up with an ever-growing mobile workforce.
"Of course I'm going to save some money by not buying particular people computers and such, my risk is going to go up, my support complexity is going to go up, maybe staff satisfaction will go up. But the reality is, what is all comes down to, for me BYO is the only way that I am able keep up with mobility.
"People [are increasingly] exchanging devices. [They] buy a device and use it for 12 months before they want the next device and I think that is [only] going to increase."
To help keep up with the ever-increasing exchange of devices, Jansen said he "specifies the minimum [security and other] requirements" for smartphones, tablets and BYO computers instead of having a selection of devices for workers to choose from.
"As long as it meets the minimum requirements we will allow them to register it," he said. "An iPhone 3, for example, is not allowed. Why? Because it doesn't have encryption on the device."
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