CXO

Is BYOD here to stay? Maybe it's just a phase you're going through

BYOD may not be a certainty for enterprise, as figures reveal the proportion of companies supporting the trend is tailing off.

For several years there have been predictions the bulk of employees would choose to use personal phones, tablets and laptops at work.

But the bring your own device (BYOD) ethos appears to be being rejected by a significant proportion of companies, which are instead offering staff a shortlist of mobile devices to choose from - dubbed choose your own device (CYOD) by analyst firm IDC.

Evidence of the BYOD slow down was identified by IDC, which found the proportion of European CIOs planning to implement BYOD policies has remained almost static in the past two years.

"BYOD may be reaching a plateau in Europe," said John Delaney, IDC associate VP of European mobility, at the Microsoft Business Transformed event in London yesterday.

"What I find really interesting about this study is that when I compare it with the same question about one year ago the percentage of enterprises that do not plan to have BYOD is about the same."

This finding seemed to be peculiar to Europe said Delaney, with a larger proportion of US firms planning to implement BYOD policies.

"What we're not seeing is a significant amount of new companies intending to adopt BYOD, we think this is the first data confirmation of what we have heard anecdotally, which is European employees don't like BYOD as much as American employees.

"There is a cultural expectation here that your employer provides the tools you need to do your job, you don't expect to have to provide them yourself."

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Company plans to implement BYOD policies according to IDC survey of European CIOs
The shift away from BYOD is being driven by employee resistance to giving up control of their device to employers, alongside companies starting to issue staff with popular consumer phones and tablets, he said.

There is already anecdotal evidence of BYOD working out as a bad deal for employers and individuals, particularly where companies choose to give staff money to buy their own devices to use at home and at work.

Speaking last year, the BBC's head of IT and strategy Paul Boyns said providing staff with £500 to buy a device to use at work would cost an organisation £700, while the individual would only get £300-worth of benefit.

Costs would be incurred in several areas: fresh tax liabilities, higher tariffs on consumer data and voice plans and subscription payments for third party mobile device management (MDM) software, he said.

One organisation that moved away from BYOD after considering letting officers use personal devices is Cambridgeshire Police. The force, which is looking to replace its BlackBerry handsets, instead found it would be most cost-effective to focus its efforts on developing applications for a single mobile platform, in this case the Microsoft Windows OS it already runs on its computers.

"From an efficiency standpoint a big driver was to get the most we could from the Microsoft stack we have already," said Ian Bell, head of ICT for Cambridgeshire Police.

In time, Delaney believes a number of companies will turn away from BYOD in favour of CYOD.

For these companies bring your own device policies are a temporary phase while they figure out a comprehensive strategy for providing and managing mobile devices that staff want to use, and supplying apps to be used on them.

"In principle, this is a gravitation of the selection and procurement of devices away from the employee and back towards the corporate IT department, which has some big implications for future platforms and adoption.

"This is the cusp of transition from an early phase, which is consumer-driven and in which the objective has been to manage the risks of mobility, towards a second phase where increasingly mobile is not seen as an auxiliary.

"In this phase mobile devices and networks are treated as the primary access mode for enterprise, as it's no longer about managing the risk it's about exploiting the benefit," he said, adding that to successfully reach this point companies would need to choose a standardised mobile platform integrated with online services and in-house systems, reliable access to a fast mobile network, such as 4G, and to align these mobile tools with business goals.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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