Just What is the Business Case for BYOD?

July 20, 2012 - 1 Comment

Let Them Eat Tablets: BYOD Drives Employee Satisfaction

My observation from talking to customers and seeing how bring your own device (BYOD) is being adopted is that there are two scenarios for the BYOD business case:

  1. Application-specific mobility: specific industry applications with a proven ROI
  2. Enterprise-wide mobility: adoption over many enterprises, regardless of industry type or worker type, softer or harder-to-prove ROI

Application Specific

The first scenario is one where IT will provide employees with a mobile device. This scenario is industry-specific, has a shorter time to return on investment, is simpler to quantify, and the ROI is easier to prove.  Devices stay in the control and ownership of the organization and its IT department. This scenario includes capturing data at the point of retail activity and enabling data capture and access to workers who traditionally do not sit at desks in front of PCs.

Enterprise Wide

The second scenario is where the true BYOD explosion is happening and has the potential to change the way we work everywhere. Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) recently conducted a survey,  BYOD and Virtualization. When I read it I thought, “Here we are. Enterprise mobility has arrived big time.” IBSG found that the two biggest benefits to business for adopting a broad BYOD strategy are employee satisfaction and employee productivity. The world is changing, how and where we work is changing, and consumer expectation is changing how people expect and want to work. According to the 2011 Cisco Connected World report, two of five respondents said they would even accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. This certainly resonates with me.

Benefit: Employee Satisfaction

Let’s start with the easy benefit, employee satisfaction. We have seen jumps in employee satisfaction scores of one whole point on a scale of 1 to 5 just through BYOD services offering employees the choice to use their own most cherished devices for productive work on the corporate network. That is massive – one whole point is not to be sniffed at. Employees want choice and flexibility which the IBSG highlights in two striking points:

  • 40% of surveyed employees cited “device choice” as their top BYOD priority (the ability to use their favourite device — anywhere).
  • Respondents’ second BYOD priority is the desire to perform personal activities at work, and work activities during personal time.

Benefit: Employee Productivity

So on to employee productivity. This is harder to quantify, but some companies are taking a stab at it. Intel quotes productivity gains on the order of 2 million hours gained over a year, and that is just for an initial 10,000 user rollout. I’ve been using my own devices for work for so long that I simply cannot imagine getting my job done effectively without them. I spend about 1 to 3 hours a day using my own devices depending upon where I am. I sit on the train for an hour reading and creating documents and instant messaging my colleagues, spend an hour in the car on my way to the office joining WebEx conference calls, get home to pick my son up, then click through my approvals list while he has a snack. Multiply that by an entire workforce and you’ve got more productive and much happier staff on an order of magnitude of millions of hours of more productive work time.

But a word of caution, in order to achieve these heady heights of satisfaction and productivity we need to watch two things: Security and TCO.

Let’s see how you achieve these business benefits while still keeping within appropriate security polices and preventing the costs from spiralling.

Challenge: Security

Security absolutely must be at an appropriate level to protect your corporate data at rest and on the move. But if security is too intrusive and impacts the user experience too much, productivity will drop off as it becomes too hard to use the devices and satisfaction will drop off sharply. If the level of security required will impact the user experience adversely, think very carefully about whether it is worth it at all.

  • Aim to use as many of the native security features within the operating system as possible
  • Try to enable users to use corporate-provided apps as well as native and public apps or you will stifle ingenuity.
  • Provide secure corporate solutions for file sharing and use policy engines or mobile device management (MDM) to block unsecure public cloud apps.

Remember if you prevent users from using the very excellent user interface that the device vendor has created, well, they simply are not going to use it and bang goes your business case.

Challenge: TCO or Ongoing Costs

While there are some savings to be had pushing the purchase price of the device to the employee, do not underestimate the impact  on support staff of additional requests to provision, troubleshoot, and update new devices and the ongoing costs for the infrastructure to be able to handle and manage these new devices. If these ongoing costs spiral with a mass influx of devices, the business case will again not stack up.

  • Look to certify the operating system, not the device.
  • Provide self provision and self support tools.
  • Ensure you have an architecture that supports your strategy, one that will allow you to address mobility, video, cloud, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and consumerisation all in one holistic approach, not as isolated projects.
  • Ensure you have management tools; centralised and simple policy engines across wired, wireless, and remote access; and visibility of activity on the network, what they are doing, where they are doing it, and what devices they are doing it on.

To learn more about your options for deploying BYOD, take a look at the Cisco BYOD Smart Solution , more ideas from IBSG, and a case study of how Cisco internal  IT rolled out their BYOD strategy. Cisco’s project to provide corporate network access for employee mobile devices resulted in the following benefits:

  • Reduced costs by 30 percent while serving 42,000 mobile devices
  • Established a service delivery model that easily scales to meet growth in users and devices
  • Reduced corporate-paid accounts while allowing access from employees’ personal devices
  • Created online wiki for user self-support

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  1. Excelent for Business Case!!