Bring your own device – not all employees are the same

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The majority of employees (66%) believe they should be able to connect freely with any device – personal or company-owned – and access the applications and information they need round the clock.

At a recent Round Table hosted by Vodafone Global Enterprise and attended by senior industry executives and analysts, it was generally agreed that time will soon be running out for those companies that have still to develop some form of bring your own device (BYOD) strategy.

According to industry analyst, IDC, by the end of 2013, there will be 120 million more smartphones and tablets shipped than PCs. And the latest Cisco Connected Technology World Report highlights one of the most important implications for business: “The majority of employees (66%) believe they should be able to connect freely with any device – personal or company-owned – and access the applications and information they need round the clock. Policy or no policy, employees will simply do it.”

Yet in controlling the runaway train that is BYOD, this does not mean that firms should rush headlong into bringing on board policies that apply with equal force to all employees.

For example, unlike previous technology-based initiatives in which the response has typically been driven by IT, the development of a BYOD strategy will have a fundamental impact on the employer/employee relationship. As a result, there is a real opportunity for the HR team to move centre stage and co-ordinate the involvement of other departments including finance and legal, as they are best-placed to balance the potentially conflicting goals of employee flexibility and data security. Recognising this, nearly half of corporates already include the HR team in developing an appropriate response.

Involving HR also recognises that the aspirations and operational needs of individual staff will differ. It will depend on issues such as age, personal circumstances, where they are in the employment lifecycle and the demands of the role. Workstyle profiling is important here as it helps the employer understand the relevant layers of management and support, security and training required in order to create an acceptable and enforceable policy across the business.

As IDC’s Nick McQuire says: “Not all workers are mobile workers. Equally, some workers either may be too high risk or even unappreciative of aspects of mobility such as BYOD.” By prioritising those employees who need it most, employers can develop a cost-effective BYOD strategy that provides the right degree of data protection. At the same time, it will meet the aspirations of an increasingly vocal workforce – from the latest graduate recruits to board-level executives – keen to use their latest personal gadgets in order to do their jobs better and in the way they want.