How to Survive and Thrive in the BYOD Era

By Dan Miller

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) craze is evident whenever a new generation of smartphone, tablet or mobile operating system is released. Employees who have selected the perfect new digital helper are then unwilling to use what they consider ”ancient” technology at work.

 Employees want immediate access to the people, information and other resources they need to do their jobs, and, in turn, they will make themselves available to others anywhere and anytime. That means using their own devices both on the job and off. It also means that network reliability is more crucial than ever, but it’s mostly taken for granted by employees.

The IT manager’s “approved” list of acceptable mobile devices has vanished. Instead, the following guidelines apply:

1. Recognize that everyone has a favorite toy. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are often personalized and are vital to the individuals who buy them.

2. Make it easy to discover and add functions. The company’s mobile device management (MDM) solution will have to keep employees’ applications up to date, secure and compatible.

3. Use big data and analytics for predictions and productivity. Personal data and metadata (concept tagging, etc.) can be used to make diverse workgroups and individuals more productive and more in control of the projects they undertake with their mobile devices.

4. Balance security and convenience. Each device poses a different threat level to the enterprise’s network integrity. Use a three-pronged approach: some devices are approved platform devices that are fully supported; other devices are supported at the application level, but not at the device level; and some devices are supported on a fee-based, charge-back basis.

5. Secure your underlying networks. As employees create new uses and applications for mobile interactions, they expect to have a single network that will work without interruptions or delays. That means network assurance is crucial—

not only among mobile devices, but also among the back-office systems and databases that are used during person-to-person interactions.

Nearly every aspect of enterprise operations has key performance indicators (KPIs) to let managers know whether things are running smoothly. KPIs are also needed for understanding BYOD. When it comes to keeping up with the latest devices, companies have to consider the speed at which new devices can be onboarded and how easily their applications can be accessed.

Companies embracing BYOD must measure the speed and effectiveness of their authentication procedures. These can be gauged through empirical observations, as well as with employee surveys to determine satisfaction and effectiveness.

IP-based networks often struggle to deliver high levels of uptime and reliability while managing unpredictable and highly variable traffic. Testing, monitoring and remediation are constant processes, but they can result in the delivery of measurably higher network quality.

Some of the KPIs that should be monitored include jitter (especially in real-time voice and video communications), download/upload throughput, session transmission delays and dropped call rates. Constant testing and monitoring can assure that all available bandwidth is allocated efficiently and that services are well-provisioned.

How well IT departments serve employees is a key measure of value. In early 2012, Cisco conducted a survey of desktop virtualization trends in U.S. businesses and found that the cost benefits of BYOD range from $300 to $1,400 per employee, with the top two benefits being improved employee productivity and greater job satisfaction. A robust quality assurance program can eliminate difficulties and make people more efficient.

Each company’s BYOD deployment will have its own KPIs, but some baseline measurements can be used to determine whether a rollout is successful. You can register for and download the report, “5 Rules for Survival in the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) Era,” to learn more about the baseline KPIs for each of the rules mentioned in this article.

Dan Miller is senior analyst and founder of Opus Research, based in San Francisco. The firm analyzes enterprise spending on software and services that support customer care.