EU

Why bother building a business case for BYOD? You'll (have to) do it anyway

Bring your own device is an issue for nearly all organisations, but few are trying to justify it using standard metrics anymore.

Realising that nothing can stem the rising tide of consumer devices flooding into the workplace, most smart CIOs have decided against the King Canute option and are instead they are smiling and welcoming in these alien devices, albeit through gritted teeth.

Bring your own device (BYOD) – the trend for staff to use their own smartphones, tablet and laptops for work is one of the biggest headaches for CIOs right now. Looking at it from a numbers point of view, BYOD doesn't make sense, as one CIO told me yesterday.

This echoes what many other tech chiefs have said - that you can't build a business case for bring your own device based on standard metrics (indeed, research suggests that less than one quarter of organisations make a strong business case for allowing staff to use their own hardware in the office).

Sure, you'll save some money because you don't have to buy hardware for staff, but you'll end up providing some form of support to a much wider range of devices, and you may well end having to upgrade your corporate network and beef up security to deal with the increased traffic that comes from staff touting more powerful devices. And then add in the HR and finance overhead, plus the cost of the mobile device management software you'll need, too.

When faced with this pile of cost and complexity, suddenly shelling out for a desktop or so-so laptop every five years doesn't seem like such a bad deal for many CIOs. Alas, that's not going to stop BYOD because those metrics are irrelevant.

True, there's a (marginal) case to be made the staff are happier and more efficient if they can work on their own devices. It also means that they can use the equipment they think is best for the job, which can trump the one-size-procured-for-all philosophy of the corporate chequebook.

But really, most businesses don't need to build a business case for BYOD because it's already happened. Building a business case for BYOD would just be building a business case for the sun to rise in the morning. It's going to happen anyway.

In some respects the rise of bring your own device is a crushing defeat for the CIO and the IT organisation, because they've been so easily outmanoeuvred by staff and their desire for shiny gadgets.

From another point of view it's the workers that have overplayed their hand - for decades the employer has been responsible for providing the tools employees' need to do their jobs and now that burden (which can easily run into thousands of pounds) is now dumped on them.

And CIOs are implementing draconian policies to ensure security – if you lose your device, or leave the organisation, they'll wipe it. This could take the shine off of BYOD unless it's well communicated to staff - and perhaps means that the CIO will have the last laugh, after all.

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

14 comments
Imprecator
Imprecator

Of why Business/IT Alignment is nonsense. For years the "Business" has told IT that it needs to justify whatever technology infrastructure investments had to be made with a business case. For years, IT has been told that all they can possibly know is about the pretty blinking shiny whirly machines and that they need a layer of management to do what the business needs, That IT is nothing but hyperactive young children with no sense whatsoever of cost and business needs, that it has to be led (grabbed by the ear like a spoiled brat) by the grownups at upper management. And now IT is supposed to implement BYOD at all costs, without regards to any other implication because Management thinks it's cool? or (worse yet) because everyone is doing it?

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

iPad and Android owners often ask me questions... so the claim that all people are familiar is a myth. They don't even realize that their credit cards' magnetic strips aren't encrypted, meaning anyone can skim their way to easy cash... As people are told "you need to buy ____" and then hop from job to job every 1~5 years, with stagnating or dropping wages, it will get harder to compete. Or staying out of debt... so one can choose to keep up or be unemployable. Cool choices, huh? Never mind how much quicker landfills will get used up... Oh well. I didn't vote for this situation to take place...

linux003
linux003

BYOD is really exciting staffs as nowadays became tech savvy and very comfortable with their own devices. By using own device for official purpose, it will give thought like "I am contributing to my company". This thought will create accountability. At the same time, we should be very conscious about intruders. Its recommended to use only for mail communication which require rarely in client places. Because some organisations give access limit for emails. In this case, if we let users to access emails only when they go for client visits, they will be happy by giving immediate email replies to most valuable clients.

BdeJong
BdeJong

Sure, it doesn't matter that the business case does not add up?! Did I miss the memo for the end of the financial Crisis? Meanwhile, in the real world. I am waiting for the 1st "my employees BYO compromised customer data" lawsuit that will end all this nonsense.

maszsam
maszsam

When I made my living as a tech, I saw hundreds of virus uped machines that people were still trying to use. Any system is only as good as its implimentation. As a person who has removed viruses and malware from hundreds of machines I got to be pretty quick at sizing up the situiation, sometimes in less than 5 seconds. Even then, things got past me. The average person has zero chance over the long haul. If you want to implement BOYD and let people get on your comopany intranet, uploand files and what, you should set a stop watch to get a precise rolling average for going between malware attacks. From what I've seen over the years, I advise clients to never go online with a Microsoft computer and set up Linux machines for internet interfaces. To me it is completely insane and agressively stupid to let outside machines that you are not 100% sure about on a corportate network. Absolutely mind blowing as a concept. What is the cost / risk analysis like: Hey Bill, we could maybe save 10k a year if we let people bring their own hardware in. Right Bob, but wouldn't that expose all of our software and records to possible catistrophic loss, shutting the whole operation down for some period of time and maybe losing clients for a net loss of, well, everything? Yeah Bill, but maybe we could save 10K a year. That would be equal to 2/3 of an employees anual pay at minimum wage. Wow Bob. That much! lets do it!

robo_dev
robo_dev

With the proper MDM, what once was a BES-only company-owned-device environment can be transformed into a secure and manageable BYOD for user iPhone, Android, and even Rim devices. Been there done, that. When we start talking about workers bringing personal laptops and wanting to join the Domain and connect to the LAN, I say, "woah Nelly", we're talking about a whole different animal. MDMs such as Good or Airwatch can make BYOD fairly painless for most folks, but the discussion gets confused when it turns to laptops. Remember, with respect to smartphones, ALL your employees are already bringing their own devices to work. The question is whether they can get their mail on the device or not. The old-school idea of having the company-issued blackberry for work and your own personal iPhone or Android phone is going away...

Rob73!
Rob73!

BYOD can be mamanged by using an MDM solution. I can;t understand for the life of me why ANY company would embrace a formal BYOD policy and then place no security restrictions to control how enterprise data is held and accessed on personal devices. NOTE: I don't advocate MDM as being 100% effective, however I do consider using a properly configured MDM solution as being 100% more effective at protecting enterprise data than just allowing any one to rock up with their own kit and being sent on their way with company data.

maszsam
maszsam

Sounds like a serious lack of corporate leadership. Who is working for whom? Under non-brain dead management, a business cuts any practice that does not optimize return. Even in an era of big brother trying to redefine capitalism and free markets to better suit their agenda, natural law, that is the underlying systems that govern systems, i.e. fish have to swim and birds have to fly, is not mutable. The point of this being that companies that do not take cost saving measures seriously will tend to fail faster than ones that do. Further a business with real managers knows exactly what the costs are. This also means that the business implied ethical responsibilites, a source of income for their workers so as to feed and cloth their dependants, the economic good of their community, as well as the evil return to the principals as reward for providing the forementioned benefits as well as meeting a need for their customers is a manner that the customers are willing to pay for, are jeopordized. And for what? The five year amortization of $1000.00 worth of software and hardware? And actually with the tax write offs for business equipment, the net cost is more like $700.00 depending. The $1000.00 figure is probably over kill for a work station. I have build many fast machines with legal versions of MS office for under $700.00 each. Toss in a 22” monitor and there you have it. A mission dedicated machine the will romp booty on a tablet or smart phone. What are people trying to run: A day care center or a business?

info
info

Even in a smaller 'family-type' business atmosphere, I support everything, but make it clear that all costs are borne by the client, and that support will be 'best-effort'. Most eventually see the wisdom (and convenience) of having a business-provided device. I also love these 'have-to' type of arguments. Most of our employees believe they should only work a 10-4 workday. If they all just started working those hours, do you think they would last long before being replaced?

wtburnette67
wtburnette67

Instead of working with IT and getting hardware and software that makes sense, employees want to do an end run and bring in whatever they think works best. What a crock. After 2 decades in support and now a shift over to IT Security, I can tell you this is a complete mess. Also, I keep hearing this "most businesses" have deployed BYOD but my experience is very different. We have some company owned tablets and we have some execs who have brought in personal toys, but no place I've worked has gone full blown BYOD, or has any plans to. I just don't see how it's supposed to work, especially from a support viewpoint, but don't let common sense stand in the way of "progress".

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

BYOD is dependent on company policy, and the last time I checked, the average business had more power over it's employees than the government does. (At least here in the USA, anyway.) There's no secret law anywhere that says BYOD is mandatory and it offers no game-changing advantages, and in fact, it presents business-halting DISadvantages all too easily. BYOD is a load of BS and a business that adopts it will not be more profitable or save more money than a business that doesn't. Anyone that says otherwise is a blatant liar.

jqbecker
jqbecker

who gets fired? Not the Employee - they are the "victim". Not the employee's manager - they were "empowering employees for greater efficiency". Nope, IT will get the blame.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Funny, it makes me think, "I'm getting screwed by my company, forced to pay for a tool they used to provide."

BdeJong
BdeJong

Just check the toolbar rating on a tech savvy young employee and on the guy with grey hair that actually reads popups and installation screens. In my support experience the savvy peeps go from sleek to standstill in about one month after clean install. java, iTunes, adobe, chrome all updated to the latest spec but those 34 windows updates just take to long for me to bother.....(BYO)