Mobile implies movement, and when it comes to technological evolution, there's no sitting still. But, just as today's mobile devices are the slimmed down, smartened up descendants of the technological miracles of yesteryear, companies continue to streamline and improve their customer and employee strategies to reflect what's in demand today. For many, this means bringing personal devices into the enterprise and allowing employees to access company and customer data on the go.
Known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), many organizations are now encouraging an enterprisewide culture that enables employees to incorporate their own personal devices with their everyday work environment. Until now, most organizations viewed BYOD as a potential risk to their network, but with the right security measures in place, many are beginning to realize that this option opens up the potential for increased productivity, flexibility, and job satisfaction, while cutting operational costs in the process.
"Mobile has forever changed customer experience expectations, and now BYOD's are highlighting a fundamental change in the workplace," says Mayur Anadkat, director of product marketing at Five9. "In particular, tablets, like the iPad, offer a new way to work and be efficient. While you may not be able to do every single thing you can do on your desktop, tablets offer a new and more powerful way for business owners to visualize, react, and even conduct work."
Now, employees feel they can work more efficiently and with more flexibility because they have access to familiar devices that enable them to work from anywhere at any time. Jonathan Erwin, CEO of Red e App, believes there are two main triggers driving the BYOD trend forward: cost and ease of access. The cost of smart devices and data plans continues to decrease, making them readily accessible to the consumer, and for businesses and IT, the cost of buying, managing, and supporting multiple devices for all employees isn't financially sustainable, creating a perfect BYOD storm that isn't likely to subside soon.
Gartner's "Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future" report, emphasizes that mobile workforce enablement is a game changer, resulting in dramatic productivity improvements and great potential for innovation. Each year, the average company employing the COPE (Company Owned, Personally Enabled) mobile culture $600 per employee. But now organizations are allowing employees to use their own devices to run business applications, transitioning to the true BYOD experience, cutting costs by utilizing the devices that are already in hand, as more than 60 percent of workers already claim to use their personal devices at least once during the work day, with 44 percent using their personal smartphones. Also, by encouraging employees to use the device of their choosing, IT can focus its attention on maintaining security networks and developing engaging mobile applications that empower employees to be more productive.
"BYOD enables more employees to have access to company data and applications, fostering greater productivity, expanded 'in the field' coverage, and higher morale as employees are using tools they want to use, not a company mandated device," says Martin Schneider, head of product evangelism at SugarCRM. "Customer service levels can also improve, again because more 'in the field' agents can access the right information instantly, and 'always on' sales and service employees can cover customer inquiries and support issues from anywhere."
According to the "Cisco IBSG Horizons Study" report, 76 percent of IT leaders believe BYOD is somewhat or extremely positive for their companies. This trend also highlights looming obstacles for IT, as managers must now focus on a more holistic approach that's scalable and addresses the issues brought on by mobility, security, virtualization, and network policy management while keeping management costs low and providing an optimal experience.
By letting workers connect their own devices with sensitive data, companies open their networks to many potential threats. While encrypted software that limits access to critical data lessens such risks, companies should create a thorough policy that outlines each party's responsibilities with regard to mobile devices, determining the level of support, what types of devices are supported, and what is expected of employees when using personal devices at work.
Erwin notes, "As with any other internal policy, BYOD warrants its own guidelines, such as whether employees have to password protect their devices, types of documents they shouldn't access on a personal device, and if hourly workers must be compensated for responding to work-related tasks on their own devices." To implement this BYOD culture successfully, organizations must establish and educate employees on the proper guidelines within the context of their company.
UBS Explores the Client Benefits of BYOD
For UBS, the global financial firm, mobile integration was a must. Tony Castagno, chief technology officer at Cicero, Inc., explains that the financial institution's staff of advisers has to abide by a strict code of conduct, as they work with private client information each day. However, this sensitive data prevented employees from fully serving the customer, for they could only do so by bringing the client into the office. In response, UBS moved to address these security issues, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction concerns simultaneously by integrating a mobile workspace that enables financial advisers to work from anywhere using their iPads.
This solution now allows employees to access the client information that was once only available behind the company firewall. Financial advisers engage with various applications that provide secure access to sensitive data any time and anywhere, for this mobile workspace does not require any private information to be stored on the device. Instead, an encrypted projection of the customer's file appears within the application, acting only as an image of the necessary data. By virtualizing the desktop experience, UBS didn't have to rebuild its system around employees' need for mobility, for this secure application can be scrubbed out remotely if the device is lost or stolen because the information remains contained in the company's data storage repository. This leaves no trace of client files and erases the probability of compromised customer data.
Delaware Defines New State BYOD Program
In the State of Delaware, BYOD has become an integral component of the administration's desire to cut costs statewide and appeal to state workers in a way that continues to see increasing demand. The state recognized that, by allowing state employees to trade in their state-owned devices in exchange for the use of their personal devices, Delaware could save up to $2.5 million-approximately half of its wireless spend. Over the years, the proliferation of mobile led to nearly 2,500 state-owned Blackberry devices among the state workforce. But, as the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) initiative approached the end if its lifecycle and the demand for Androids and iPhones began to dominate, the state's Department of Technology and Information (DTI) decided to implement a two-year transition plan that would transition users from the existing infrastructure to their personal devices. Employees can participate through the state's reimbursement program, which allows workers to reclaim a portion of the expenses the device incurs, or by linking directly to the state's wireless carrier.
To establish eligibility, the State of Delaware limited the program to workers who require the frequent need of such a device: those on the road or in the field 50 days or more per year; those who must be available for emergency contact; and those required to respond 24/7. Since implementing the transition in February 2011, the Delaware's Department of Corrections, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Social Services, and the Governor's Office have all joined the initiative. Last year, the state added more than 100 employees to the reimbursement program, with more than 1,000 state workers using their own devices on the job. The state also saw device-related expenses decrease by 45 percent, while departmental wireless costs dropped 15 percent-a trend that is only expected to continue and gather momentum.