When planning a move to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), it's natural to think that the influx of new devices into an enterprise could overwhelm the IT help desk. Involving the user community more in device provisioning and support can free up IT staff for more mission critical tasks. It also gives the organization and device owners a mutual stake in the success of the BYOD program.
I've been following the concept of BYOD user self-provisioning and support for some time now. The current state of mobile and security technologies make it possible. However, an IT department needs to have strong relationships with each segment of their end user community to make BYOD self-provisioning and support a reality.
When I spoke with David Applebaum, senior vice president of marketing for Moka5, a leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor for Avoid using a one-size-fits-all BYOD security policy, I had a chance to discuss BYOD self-provisioning and support with him.
Know your BYOD user community in the office
"This is where we really go back to horses for horses," says Applebaum. "You have folks like admins, the less technologically sophisticated folks. "It's the less technologically savvy user that seems to get left out of so much current BYOD thinking and get lost on many other product and services roll outs, so I was happy to see how Applebaum breaks users out for BYOD self provisioning and support.
He says, "They likely aren't doing a lot of traveling. At the end of the day, they are probably a lot more deskbound than other people in the organization."
"Secondly, they are also doing some consistent and common activities on a daily basis," Applebaum says. "There's probably not a lot of variance in their day. They are using word processing, the accounting programs. There is not what I would call a lot of discretionary computing."
Because of the way these users work, Applebaum recommends a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to support their BYOD devices. These users work within a known workflow and parameters using a specific number of applications.
"By and large from their own perspective they are probably aren't the ones who will be bringing in their new tablets to try to do work on," Applebaum states. "They are probably strictly going to use them at home for personal entertainment and things of that nature."
Meet the middle management and knowledge workers
It's when you support middle management and knowledge workers with BYOD devices when your IT staff might have to start doing more outreach to the user community.
"It's the folks I would term more middle management where you've got folks who are in slightly more knowledge worker related roles," says Applebaum. " They have some authority within an organization and think they are more technical than they are."
We all know the users that Applebaum describes here. He puts it aptly, "They are going to come in, have their tablet, and say, ‘hey isn't this cool?'"
They are the users who have enough knowledge to do a little bit of damage and tax your limited IT help desk resources unnecessarily.
"They are going to do it, just to do it," Applebaum advises. "That's where you got to get into a scenario where you have to say, ‘We aren't going to support you on this if you get into trouble. It's going to be on your own head.'"
Eventually, these users may get frustrated and drop out of your BYOD program if they exceed the support boundaries you place on them.
Give the technically savvy what they need (and make friends with them)
"And, then for the folks who are technically savvy, give them what they need," advises Applebaum. "This is where you download it, they are probably already involved in chat groups and other kinds of things for solving technical problems. I know from my personal experience, a lot of very technically savvy folks just cant wait for IT. Look at how long it takes a typical IT department to answer a trouble ticket."
I would also add that technically savvy users are much-needed allies for a BYOD initiative regardless of how responsive your IT department is to trouble tickets. These people talk up their latest device and new apps with their co-workers. Often times, they also have the trust of their co-workers making it easier for some users to ask them questions before even thinking about contacting the help desks. Make friends with the technically savvy for the good of your BYOD program.
Applebaum's recommendations for BYOD self-provisioning and support aren't out of bounds for many organizations if it is part of BYOD planning from day one. While I advocate BYOD self provisioning and support because it makes both the device owner and their organization on the hook for their BYOD initiative's success, it also makes plain economic sense in these times because it can lighten the IT department's support load over employees' personal devices.
Download Tech Pro Research's BYOD policy to use as a template for your organization's BYOD guidelines. Tech Pro Research is TechRepublic's premium content sister site.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.