Companies around the world are still wrestling with the concept of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and how or whether to implement it in their organizations.
Still the scales are tipping in favor of BYOD: A new global survey of IT decision-makers by Dell Quest Software reports that 70 percent of companies believe BYOD will or already has improved their work processes and 59 percent believe they would find themselves at a competitive disadvantage without BYOD.
Dell commissioned technology market research firm Vanson Bourne to investigate attitudes toward BYOD, with a particular focus on the prevalence of device-centric and user-centric approaches to BYOD and how these approaches affect perception and outcome. Vanson Bourne interviewed 1,485 IT heads from enterprise-sized organizations in Australia, the Beijing region of China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, Spain, U.K. and U.S.
"We're seeing dramatic changes in the way users interact with technology on their personal devices and the critical role BYOD plays in transforming business and IT culture," says Roger Bjork, director of Enterprise Mobility Solutions at Dell Software Group.
"This global survey confirms what we have long suspected—companies that embrace a user-focused approach to BYOD may reap the biggest rewards, face the fewest obstacles and deliver real and immediate value in terms of greater efficiency, productivity and competitive advantage," says Bjork. "Those slow to support BYOD or constrained by a device-centric approach may deal with greater challenges, including the risk of being left behind from a competitive standpoint."
Mature BYOD Programs Mean More Benefits
The survey found that organizations with mature BYOD programs are the most likely to achieve the most benefits out of BYOD. In addition, organizations with a user-centric strategy tended to report a significant, positive impact on data management, security, employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Seventy-four percent of companies with user-centric strategies say they experienced improved employee productivity and 70 percent reported faster customer response times.
As might be expected, companies with well-established BYOD policies are the least likely to experience setbacks and more than one-quarter said they had experienced no setbacks at all.
User-centric BYOD Tends to Be More Successful
Not surprisingly, the survey found that organizations are varied in terms of what BYOD means to their organization. Eleven percent of organizations said BYOD is just "employees wanting to use their tablets." It should perhaps come as no shock that these organizations were unlikely to have taken any steps into the BYOD world.
The report found that 32 percent of respondents had a much more nuanced definition: "The BYOD movement is about much more than managing devices—it's about users, how they do their jobs and the degree to which organizations empower them to achieve maximum productivity—regardless of device or location."
A majority of organizations (61 percent)with a mature BYOD program say that is precisely how they see BYOD. But when the respondents as a whole were asked whether it is more important to manage users or devices when it comes to BYOD, 56 percent said it is more important to manage devices. Yet, Vanson Bourne's research suggests that organizations that adopt a device-centric approach are likely to face more setbacks and challenges, including abuse of policies and unauthorized data distribution, than organizations that take a user-centric approach.
"At Quest Software [now part of Dell] we closely followed the BYOD trajectory within our own organization and moved quickly to empower our employees by giving them access to the apps and data they need, regardless of device," says Carol Fawcett, CIO of Dell Software. "Instead of managing individual devices, we chose to manage the identities of our user base—from the moment an employee enters the organization to the moment they leave—regardless of which device they use, or where they use it from."
"When we looked across our worldwide customer base, we discovered that when organizations took a similar user-centric BYOD approach, they were able to reap the greatest and most immediate rewards while experiencing the fewest setbacks," she adds. "These companies used BYOD as a strategic competitive advantage and also were able to resolve some of the biggest BYOD problems, including security, access rights and data leakage."
User-centric BYOD Shows Host of Benefits
Companies that adopted a user-centric approach were much more likely to report the following benefits:
- The ability to link and manage devices per user
- The ability to track and support each user's level of mobility
- The ability to deliver applications based on a user's role
- The ability to effectively provision devices and required applications when users change roles, leave or buy new devices
- The ability to track and manage users (and their data) when they change roles or leave the company
- The ability to separately manage employees' business and personal data
- The ability to back up all the data on an employee's personal device
- The ability to adhere to governance regulations
They also cited these advantages of a user-focused approach:
- Enables more flexible working hours for employees (77 percent)
- Allows them to gain more creativity from employees (73 percent)
- Speeds up innovation by allowing people to share ideas at any time from anywhere (71 percent)
- Serves as a catalyst for teamwork and collaboration (70 percent)
Organizations in Singapore were the most likely (63 percent) to choose managing users over devices, while organizations in the U.S. were the least likely (30 percent) to choose managing users over devices.
Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Thor at firstname.lastname@example.org