As today’s workforce transforms into a highly mobile and collaborative environment, the line dividing consumer and professional technologies blurs. We are seeing individuals purchasing smartphones, laptops, tablets, and slates with the expectation of having the same experience in the workplace as they do on their new cool consumer devices. However very often the office machine and OS are outdated and don’t offer the same experience.
This in turn leads to a demand from information workers to hook up their new consumer devices to the corporate network and let them use those instead of the corporate devices. This trend is known as the “consumerization of IT,” and increases the pressure on CIOs and IT departments then to either upgrade to latest technology, allow employees access inside the firewall to their own devices and in some cases offer employees a stipend to purchase whichever device they want within a certain budget instead of IT purchasing devices. Fortunately, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are identifying where product design and user business requirements intersect; they are developing innovative devices that transcend this professional-personal line and still meet enterprise IT requirements.
While the debate on the business implications of user-selected devices continues, consumers are bringing devices from home into their work environment and CIOs need to decide their response. My conversations with CIOs indicate that they are creating their own bring-your-own-device policy and they are asking themselves some questions to help define this policy.
Since different job functions require different devices, CIOs are considering that not every user has the same job requirements, even at a departmental level. From a device perspective this means that not one device fits all. for example In a hospital there are different user needs across receptionists, nurses, materials managers and doctors who can all benefit from a device optimized to their respective roles. What are the right devices to respond to the business needs for each “type” of employee? Consumer devices are changing rapidly and the speed of mobile consumer innovation can enable businesses to benefit from the technology advancements. One of the most staggering development is the increase in number of devices per employee. It is not uncommon now for one user to have a desktop, notebook, smartphone and in some cases now a tablet or slate also.
How can CIOs take advantage of the ever-changing device market? Freedom of self-expression in the workplace is a powerful motivator: allowing employees to use their own devices lets workers express themselves and individuate in the corporate environments which can increase job satisfaction and improve employee productivity.
How can CIOs work to improve employee satisfaction and productivity? Safeguarding corporate data is paramount. Security, integration with existing corporate infrastructure, ongoing support and management costs should be considered strongly to ensure the integrity of your corporation’s confidential and sensitive information.
How is the diversity of devices impacting the company’s security profile? While end-user demand is driving this trend, CIOs can rely on trusted OEMs to help define the optimal device strategy and identify risks and costs to ensure that business objectives and requirements. CIOs should establish clear guidelines to ensure that approved devices are designed to meet the demands of their enterprises. They may identify a variety of device options that meet both the corporate and individual needs. As a means to offset some of the complexity and cost of managing an environment with multiple device types, CIOs may identify a standard operating system that is optimal for existing network infrastructure as one of the parameters for approved devices. To manage the demands of user-selected devices, many companies are implementing programs that offer mobile workers stipends to choose devices that best suit their individual professional demands and work styles. A survey conducted for a recent Forrester report found that 55 percent of enterprises provide some level of financial support for employee device purchases, and as the efficacy of these programs is affirmed over time it’s likely that financial support from corporations will continue to rise. In fact, many industry leaders are facilitating the use of consumer devices in the business environment. OEMs are recognizing the significant growth opportunity that lies within discrete segments, such as healthcare, construction, insurance, and field services and producing increasingly more specialized devices. The shrewdest OEMs are taking steps to improve their understanding of the unique industry demands and capturing customer input to influence functional design like inviting customers to participate in beta programs. Likewise, shrewd CIOs are participating and benefiting from devices designed to more closely fit the needs of their organization.
In a business and cultural climate that appears to suggest “bring-your-own-device” options will become more and more commonplace, the time is now for CIOs to identify and define a policy for consumer devices. By strategically combining their knowledge of their organization’s infrastructure with the counsel and innovative devices delivered by strategic OEM partners, CIOs can empower their workforce with devices appropriate for each job role and industry, create a more competitive organization, and ensure the security of the organization’s future.