Barbara in accounting has been using a BlackBerry for years, and is still addicted to it. MaryAnne in sales uses an iPad for on-the-road presentations, but relies on her trusty Android smartphone to stay up on work email. And A.J. in IT is an early adopter—it's hard to keep up with what's in his pocket. Workers from any organization can relate to any of the above. Why? Our preferences are different, our options are of the many, and we've acknowledged that smartphones and tablets bring advantages to the workplace.
Let's not forget about device management, though. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) poses most IT directors the challenge of securing a large range of devices without taking on a finanical burden. This is particularly troublesome for IT managers who issued BlackBerrys to employees for years and up until now have largely depended on a BES server to manage them.
Although the enterprise device environment has grown and diversified, new devices can be accomodated for without squeezing your budget dry. A recent InfoWorld article provided some good advice on how to craft a cost-effective BYOD plan.
Plan for BYOD in one-two-three
InfoWorld highlighted three basic guidelines for a objective-driven, cost-effective BYOD plan:
- Everybody's invited: any IT strategy should support as many devices as possible
- Don't boil the ocean: assess only risks applicable to your organization
- Keep it simple: don't exaggerate on exisiting problems (or worse, create new ones)
InfoWorld article stressed the big picture when it comes to technology: consider the total cost of ownership. Organizations that choose less expensive solutions that lack support capabilities for some devices may end up spending more in the long run, especially if the enterprise grows and needs to support a new device or devices. Businesses may face compliance violations and lower network security overall if unsupported devices come on the network. InfoWorld said it is best to simplify IT management by choosing a common solution to be used with all platforms.
InfoWorld's other two points focus on ensuring the features of a chosen solution are a good fit for a business. IT managers can reduce the risk of taking on excessive costs by first outlining the features that are most important for the business and looking at MDM solutions to fill those needs. The flexibility offered by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions provide a unique advantage in this area—allowing IT to pay for what it needs during initial deployment. Capacity and features can be added as the business grows or demands change, with pricing that scales along the way.
Meeting business objectives with MDM
The benefits of supporting diverse devices might also extend to human resources. There has been significant buzz regarding the attitude of younger workers, who may be technologically savvy and have strong preferences as to what mobile devices they prefer. According to a recent ZDNet article, embracing BYOD is crucial to attracting new talent. While it is important for organizations to respond to the needs of their employees, they must do so in balance with their pursuit to achieve business goals.
An eWeek article highlighted the value of meeting employee demands with BYOD, but took a more balanced view of the issue. The benefits of enhanced employee productivity and a mobile workforce don't negate the need to address security issues. Flexible MDM solutions allow companies to respond to employee needs while still adding value to the business. By supporting the growing diversity of devices and platforms, organizations gain the benefits of a mobile workforce without excessive costs to manage personal devices—keeping Barbara, MaryAnne, A.J. and the spring chickens of the team equally satisfied.