When we enable mobile employees to use their own devices, we should empower them to do far more than just speak with customers, colleagues and family while driving or check both business and personal email on the same device.
Truly empowering mobile workers with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) enables them to accomplish, immediately and anywhere, what used to tie them to their desks.
Consider the simple example of traveling employees being able to track expenses as they make them. We used to have to carefully keep track of every receipt and hope we wouldn’t lose any. After returning to the office, just when we needed to get caught up with phone calls and emails, we’d have to dedicate far too much time to filling out a form. But now, thanks to an app developer who recognized the power of consumer devices, we can snap a photo of each receipt as soon as we get it, and it is immediately logged as an expense and sent to accounting. It’s faster and easier for the traveler, and accounting receives a perfect digital record of each expense.
Think about store clerks, whose mobile phones are linked to the store’s stock and point-of-sale systems. Customer service and purchasing now can take place immediately, anywhere on the floor. Customers get better and faster service, management uses its human resources more efficiently and clerks get to use the devices with which they are most comfortable.
New mobile device capabilities also enable completely new work processes. For example, cameras are letting fieldworkers in a variety of industries, including utilities and oil and gas, send photos to their offices to help manage assets and solve problems. In addition, biometric fingerprint sensors can automate security, so employees don’t need to remember pins or patterns.
Advances in smart device technology continue at a rapid pace, so the challenge for businesses is how to embrace the changes and maximize the opportunities. This cuts both ways. Business leaders must examine their industries, recognize potential benefits of new technologies and not allow fear or uncertainty to set limitations. At the same time, they must take the right approach to BYOD, or risk employee resistance. I’ve encountered several companies that have said to employees, “Fine, you can use your own phone, but to protect our data, we’ll put an agent on the phone. And if you leave the company, we will wipe the entire device.” In these cases, the cost of BYOD is simply too high for the employees. Therefore, they typically refuse to enter the program or they find ways to circumvent IT’s restrictions, leading to shadow IT.
How can management best create a flexible, secure BYOD solution that will encourage employee adoption? We believe an enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy that relies on a secure workspace to separate corporate data from personal data is the best foundation. Such a strategy protects corporate data and employee privacy, while giving IT flexibility to adapt to and scale for the future.