The explosive growth of mobile and social technology is no surprise: It is a natural evolution of how we as humans interact. Mobile and social technology has provided us with the ability to organize, and connect faster and better than ever before. It’s not just a vehicle for connecting with old friends or keeping up with the latest celebrity news, but rather a powerful tool that helps people unite, mobilize and act on a global scale. It’s been the voice of revolutions, united people across the world to bring disaster relief to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan, and has been responsible for placing worldwide attention to social, political and environmental issues.
While these technologies have created a shift in how we communicate in our personal lives, has it provided the same impact in our work environment? Has the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement truly changed how we work? As an organization, how are you ensuring that your multi-generational workforce is reaping the business benefits of BYOD?
Organizations are not maximizing the business value of mobile and social technologies because they lack well defined, practical guidance on how to manage today’s multi-device and multi-generational workforce. Here are five steps that you can take to get started with your BYOD initiative:
Step 1: Secure Stakeholder Buy-In
Executive buy-in and support is paramount for any successful enterprise initiative. It is critical for key stakeholders to understand the value mobile and social technologies can bring to the organization. Three relevant value propositions that you can bring to the attention of the C-Suite include:
- Increase employee productivity: Employees can increase their productivity by using mobile and social technologies that provide access to information when they are away from their desks --including email, instant messaging, personal locations, calendar, voice, video and newsfeeds at any time and place. Productivity increases because mobile and social technologies help shift user behavior toward work tasks, thus fully engaging users for more time and enabling employees to work in environments that optimally support their responsibilities.
- Focus IT on strategic initiatives: The BYOD movement enables organizations to shift device purchasing, device handling, asset inventory and device provisioning to the retail channel and end users, which in some cases can reduce IT operational expenses. However, IT should provide proper information and self-service support, as well as a clear communication strategy to mitigate the risk of unnecessary support.
- Attract and retain talent: The workplace today has a mix of generations with varying technical capabilities, expectations, and work styles. Millennials rely on social and collaborative tools as indispensable options, whereas others may consider these tools to be no more than a means to improve existing processes. To attract and retain a range of employees, businesses are moving toward a rich BYOD environment; as well as partnering with human resources and corporate communications to enhance workplace satisfaction.
Step 2: Map Business Value
Securing stakeholder buy-in is not enough to successfully drive an enterprise wide mobile and social initiative. As we all know, change is often met with resistance.
An effective way for the rest of the organization to embrace mobile and social technologies as a part of their day to day work is to map how these technologies can help. Beyond sending and receiving emails, consider elevating the use of mobile and social technologies to facilitate collaboration for geographically dispersed teams, enhance multichannel communications and provide visibility into business critical data.
Identify common business scenarios that can provide “quick wins” to your workforce. This way, you can ensure buy-in and the higher likelihood of success for your BYOD initiative.
Step 3: Establish Relevant Policy
Now that business needs are identified and mapped to potential solutions, developing a BYOD policy is the next step. Key areas that you have to consider:
- How many devices are going to be connecting to your internal resources?
- What services will they use?
- Is your infrastructure optimized for mobile access?
- How do you support an employee owned device?
- Is the service available at the application level?
- From a service standpoint, how does the service perform?
- Is availability and performance consistent?
- Is the service highly available?
- How does BYOD impact usage?
- What will be the internal and external network traffic for each service?
- How will we address storage to incorporate BYOD?
- Will this impact our server performance?
Step 4: Ensure Security and Compliance
As convenient as it is for employees to access company data on a personal device, it is equally as difficult for enterprise IT administrators to ensure security over sensitive content. Phones and tablets are portable, which leaves them liable to be misplaced or stolen. Below are two of the models available in the mobile marketplace to address these concerns:
- Mobile device management (MDM): MDM solutions typically secure, monitor and manage the entire device, allowing administrators to control all data entering and leaving it. Although this model presents the greatest level of security, it also creates dissension between the enterprise and their employees. Employees often do not want to give up the level of control over their personal device, and will seek out other ways to access and share the content that they desire -- defeating the solution’s purpose altogether.
- “Containerization”: Unlike traditional MDM solutions, containerized solutions create a partition between business and personal data. These solutions can help alleviate employee concerns over "Big Brother" while also providing the enterprise with security and control over their content. These container-based solutions often rely on geo-fencing and authentication-based security features to prevent unauthorized access to content within the container on the device.
Regardless of what model your organization chooses, security and compliance need to be a part of your mobile strategy as it is often a roadblock to ensuring sustainable user adoption after deployment.
Step 5: Facilitate Sustainable Secure Sharing
Now that you have a general strategy in place, you must analyze and understand what BYOD and mobile adoption would actually look like for your organization. Analyzing the members and needs of your mobile workforce can help you understand the necessary features and products your company needs to succeed.
A common need is the ability to share content with external entities. When establishing BYOD and enterprise mobile policies, administrators must also balance the need of employees to access and consume content against the business's need to secure access to their data. With an estimated 40 percent of the global workforce using mobile devices by 2016, companies must work to empower their mobile workforce while still ensuring critical business assets remain secure.
With the average cost of a data breach estimated to be an astounding $5.4 million, enterprise organizations need to find ways to allow their employees to collaborate on mobile without losing control over organizational data and avoid suffering from the "Dropbox problem."
The good news is there are solutions available for administrators that allow employees to share content with external parties via a secure container. These solutions allow users to directly share cached copies of content to external users while providing administrators with control over access, permissions, auditing information and expiration time.
Although you may have taken steps to enable a happier and more productive work environment, the challenge lies in how you prove it. When planning your implementation, it’s critical to measure your outcomes both qualitatively and quantitatively by establishing metrics for improvement and setting a desired end-goal. State the business value you are trying to influence before describing how an enterprise level BYOD strategy would provide the value you are seeking and how you are measuring it. At regular time intervals, report back on what has been achieved as well as necessary changes or improvements. The feedback loop you establish with your workforce will be crucial in analyzing your success, and whether the scope of your implementation needs to change to achieve the desired result.
Just remember -- when shift happens, be prepared. Empowering your mobile workforce is a new gateway for enterprise success. With proper planning, execution, training and maintenance, it can also be a main driver for productivity, collaboration and understanding in today’s multi-generational environment. Following these tips can make the difference between your organization being a shining example of how to embrace the future of work, or becoming an example of enterprise antiquity in years to come.
Title image by Yuganov Konstantin (Shutterstock)