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BYP: Rethinking your device strategy

01 Apr 11

Computer manufacturers talk about making the computer personal again – a pun on words referring to the term PC – by introducing cutting-edge technology to enhance the user interface and experience. However, there is a new concept that gives a whole new and much broader meaning to making computing devices personal again, explains Peter Brockhoff, Citrix’s Area Vice President of Australia and New Zealand
What’s driving BYO?
Bring Your Own (BYO) computer is a nascent concept with a simple premise. Employees bring their own devices to work, which increases satisfaction and allows IT to focus on other strategic initiatives, rather than managing and troubleshooting devices. Macroeconomic factors have forced organisations to rethink their investment priorities and optimise budgets.
With the virtual revolution, IT has been presented with the opportunity to do more with limited resources and be able to focus on strategic projects. On the other side, employee expectations are rising. They are looking for mobility, device flexibility and solutions from IT that can help them achieve a fine work-life balance.
Now, more than ever, line-of-business owners and IT need a solution that can help them implement a business model that stimulates growth, is cost-effective, makes IT more efficient and increases employee productivity.
Let’s take a deeper look into how BYO fulfills these requirements, why it’s becoming popular, what’s in it for the stakeholders and how this model will work for organisations of any size.
Employees’ appeal
The rise of employee expectations in the workforce has pushed IT and line-of-business owners to think of innovative ways to improve work satisfaction and productivity. BYO is a win-win for both the employee and the organisation. For employees, the division between personal and business computing is creating complexity, and reducing efficiency and productivity.
The back and forth between different work devices, smartphones, tablets and other personal devices is inconvenient, confusing and counterproductive as one switches from one OS to another, and each device may not have the required applications readily available. Employees are looking for a better and simpler way to manage their work and personal data on a single device.
With personal devices, such as Macs, netbooks and Apple iPads gaining popularity, employees are seeking empowerment to choose their own device at work as well. They no longer want to work on the standard, cloned laptops or desktops that are provided to each employee irrespective of employee preference, workstyle and mobility requirements. Employees are looking for the power to choose the device they work on and the power to achieve a better work-life balance.
Virtual computing has brought about a change in user workstyles. It has created new possibilities for user flexibility, mobility and efficiency that are now being referred to as ‘virtual workstyle’. The early adopters are being called Generation-Virtual or Gen-V.
Unlike other generational groups, age, gender and social class do not define Gen-V. Instead, it’s their preference for virtual and digital media channels to access information anywhere, anytime. These workers, along with their increasing needs and the rise of new and non traditional devices, act as compelling catalysts for the BYO concept. Most of these users and others who have multiple devices are comfortable with the device self-service model.
Self-service devices are not a new concept; anyone who owns a personal or home computer troubleshoots issues without the help of a dedicated IT team. For the more serious software or hardware issues, the device owners rely on the manufacturer’s warranty. For BYO, the self-service model remains the same: employees own and manage their device just like any other personal device.
Employees are often frustrated with slow IT help desk support due to high call volumes and, thus, many prefer to solve issues through various self-service models rather than traditional IT support. For example, sufficient help is usually available through blogging communities, fellow users and PC manufacturers’ online help topics. IT can also reduce device support by providing comprehensive help topics on corporate intranet sites. Additionally, employees can purchase extended warranties to ensure support on the more serious issues.
The new business paradigm
Executives and line of business owners are constantly looking for new ways to attract and retain high-quality employees and increase overall productivity. Successful businesses also thrive on improving business models and processes that give them an edge over their competitors. On the other side, high-quality employees, including Gen-V workers, are looking for organisations that support virtual lifestyles and device flexibility.
A comprehensive and efficient BYO strategy addresses all these elements and fuels organisational growth. BYO creates unique business value that results in easier and faster on-boarding of high quality new hires, higher efficiency and retention of existing talent within the organisation.
Most organisations already provide their employees with the power to choose the smartphone of their choice instead of implementing a cookie-cutter program for all. BYO is a bigger and broader extension of this same concept. IT workers, engineers and executives frequently enjoy the privilege of bringing their own (usually non-standard) device to work because these users have specific requirements, which may not be met by current devices provided by the organisation. BYO extends this privilege to all employees. Granted, engineers and IT folks are tech savvy and able to maintain their own devices, but the same can now be said about many employees. Gen-V, along with most employees who own personal computing devices, are now well-versed in maintaining devices and troubleshooting their issues.
Higher productivity, combined with reduced long-term IT support costs, is incentive to embark on this strategic move. With the right policies, administration and an established technology business partner that can provide cutting-edge virtualisation technology to implement the program, BYO can become a successful initiative that benefits management, IT and employees.
Changing the game for IT
A significant portion of IT resources are dedicated to managing and maintaining a large number of devices within an organisation. Due to the outpour of issues with these devices and the lack of resources, IT help desks can be inundated with user support requests and may be perceived to be slow in responding to employee issues. Some organisations provide employees with the option to choose from different types of company-owned devices (different OS, etc.), which can add to IT’s challenge of supporting not just a large number of devices but also a greater variety of devices.
Apart from device maintenance and management, IT has to meet employees’ demands for mobility and a high-quality user experience, all while having to ensure corporate data security. These daily challenges can be resolved by embracing BYO.
With a superior virtual infrastructure that enables user self-service, enhanced mobility and less device management, IT can have more time back in its day to focus on strategic projects. By embracing BYO, IT will emerge as an organisation that fosters new initiatives and adds value to business processes.
IT can enable a self-service model by providing extensive help topics on the company’s intranet site and setting up user groups and communities with blogs to help fellow users. This will save IT a tremendous amount of time and resources that today are being spent running in place – working on upgrades, support issues and desktop maintenance.
By transferring ownership of the device, IT can foster a sense of responsibility among employees to maintain and safeguard their personal belongings and with online help, communities and manufacturer warranty services, employees will have a solid self-service model to depend upon. BYO therefore helps IT keep up with the virtual computing revolution and emerge as an organisation that fosters innovation and forward thinking.
Getting started
It’s important that organisations offer an effective program that will work for employees, but expectations must be realistic. Not all employees will participate in a BYO program. Some will follow the experiences of early adopters, such as IT teams, marketing teams, field teams, and others will not be interested due to a lack of desire to maintain and manage their own device. BYO programs can be implemented through various models.
Let’s look at the two most popular models:
1Bring Your Own (device)
One model gaining traction is where employees, whether new or existing, permanent or contractors, are given the option to bring in their existing personal devices such as high-performance laptops, tablets (iPad) and smartphones to work. Under this particular model, the organisation does not provide any stipend to employees and therefore makes no investment in purchasing devices, but provides employees the flexibility to bring their personal device to work while cutting down on IT support.
This is an effective business model, especially when hiring contractors or outsourcing projects, where one does not want to make a long-term or a substantial capital investment in purchasing devices and setting up expensive IT support for the same. The employees or contractors will also enjoy greater productivity, as there will be no additional learning on a new OS or device.
The ownership fundamentals are simple as well: the employee owns the device and personal data that resides on the device, while the organisation owns any corporate data that is generated, maintained or saved on the machine.
To make these divisions extremely clear, organisations must invest in the right technology that not only delivers a high-quality user experience but also safeguards sensitive corporate data from any kind of security threat. Employees who have invested in a high-performance machine or are more at ease with their personal devices are the most inclined to enrol in this type of program.
Employees may have different kinds of devices including some that may not be in robust condition to execute business computing without delay or breakdowns. IT can effortlessly overcome this hurdle by providing access to virtual desktops that can run any business application on any device.
2   The stipend program
Companies can also offer a stipend to employees, which they can use to purchase a device of their choice. Organisations that already make an investment in devices for new or existing employees may consider this option to provide flexibility, expedite on-boarding and reduce long-term device management costs.
To make this implementation successful and valuable for IT, there are a number of considerations. Management should include clauses around IT support such as a minimum maintenance warranty purchase to reduce IT overhead and legal obligations to sign contracts around device ownership vs. data ownership (contractual obligations around proprietary ownership).
The employee, who legally owns the device, should be made responsible for any device maintenance and the corporate data that is generated, maintained or saved on the device remains the property of the organisation.
It is essential that IT retains the ability to secure, control and remotely erase corporate data on employee-owned devices in the event of a security breach, if the employee leaves or the device is lost or stolen. Employees will like the flexibility to choose their device and will also realise the benefit of both personal and business use from the same device, reducing multiple device management issues.
The purchase often qualifies for tax deductions, which is an added benefit for the employee. To make the experience seamless and the program meaningful for IT, organisations must provide access to virtual corporate desktops, applications and data to all employees anytime, anywhere.
Key considerations
As you embark on a BYO initiative, keep the following in mind:
Strategic partner and solutions
IT needs just the right strategic partner and an efficient solution to effortlessly implement this program. IT must ensure that employees can seamlessly access all business applications that are usually available on corporate devices.
Corporate data security
Any discussion of BYO raises various security concerns because the device itself is not owned by the organisation, but belongs to the employee. Employee productivity often requires that users have the ability to access, manipulate and save information from any place, anytime, particularly for business travellers and field employees. This means that data will be stored on the user device, and when the company does not own that device, there is great concern that the organisation will not be able to control future use of that information.
This security problem is not new for IT. Any organisation that provides corporate-owned laptops to employees may have similar concerns about loss of data, security breaches outside of work, theft, and so forth. For employee-owned devices, IT may additionally have concerns about the lack of antivirus and malware software, and the ability to protect against data hijacking. IT can enable different security profiles and requirements including policies that prohibit saving data on local devices, therefore extending custom security policies to employee-owned devices.
When delivering applications as an on-demand service, Citrix XenVault technology, for example, can enable IT to automatically and transparently encrypt all corporate data created through IT-delivered applications (without touching employees’ personal applications and data), even allowing IT to remotely erase the data in the event of a security breach.
User experience
Employees want the flexibility to own a device of their choice without compromising the user experience. The success of any BYO program therefore lies with the user satisfaction. IT must address the different performance, personalisation, mobility and security requirements of different users and accordingly deliver the best experience.
Stakeholder buy-in
There are multiple departments that will be get affected by a BYO implementation, therefore management must get all stakeholders such as IT, HR and Legal to agree on a comprehensive set of policies for administration. The policies must define eligibility, device and data ownership clauses, contractual obligations, general compliance and circumstances under which employees can be held accountable for breach of contract and how the matter or any other disputes will be processed.
Take the lead
BYO is rapidly gaining popularity and is creating market buzz due to the unique value it creates for the business, IT and the employees. A BYO program is a strategic shift that will help organisations save cost, recruit and retain high-quality employees, increase satisfaction and productivity and help IT get out of the business of managing devices.
With the opportunity to optimise the IT infrastructure and build a superior and sustainable model with a strategic partner such as Citrix, BYO brings a paradigm shift in the way business processes are run and can be optimised. Organisations in fields such as technology, health care and manufacturing that have already implemented this program are experiencing these exceptional benefits.
Now is the time for IT and line-of-business owners to rewrite the rules of the game and adopt this strategy to create a business model that can help them leapfrog their competitors.

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