Market Research and Insight

To BYOD or Not to BYOD? To BYOD or Not to BYOD?
Could you imagine running your business today without internet access or mobile phones? For most mid-market companies, it’s unthinkable. How else could you reach... To BYOD or Not to BYOD?

Could you imagine running your business today without internet access or mobile phones?

For most mid-market companies, it’s unthinkable. How else could you reach tech support while you’re on the road? How else could a valued customer get in touch for a last-minute change in an order after you’ve left work for the day?

That kind of connectivity isn’t just for business, though. Armed with smartphones, tablets and laptops, millions of consumers have also become used to the always-connected lifestyle. And they’re increasingly unwilling to switch off their favorite devices when they come to work.

The result is that a growing number of people are using personal electronics on the job. Whatever you call it – BYOD (“bring your own device”), the “consumerization of IT,” one more step toward the “internet of things” – it’s a trend that’s blurring the boundaries ever more between work and life. It’s a trend that’s unlikely to stop, no matter what your company’s official IT policy might be.

“The days of IT-controlled smartphone deployments are over,” a report from Forrester Research declared in late 2011. “Seventy-seven percent of smartphones used at work are chosen by an employee, and 48% are chosen without regard for IT support. That means only 23% of the smartphones used at work in the US are delivered as a take-it- or-leave-it device by IT. And three-fifths of that 23% are BlackBerrys.”

More and more employees, in other words, are taking IT into their own hands.

So what should companies do about it? The smart ones, various case studies show, embrace the trend rather than try to fight it or stamp it out. Employee demand, in fact, is the top reason businesses adopt BYOD policies, according to a recent report from HDI. And the number two reason? Employee satisfaction.

The bottom line is that – done right – allowing employees to use their own devices at work is good for business.

“At its core, BYOD enabled Citrix IT support to revisit and reinvent the user experience,” writes Shawn Genoway, senior director of worldwide IT service delivery and BYOD program director for Citrix. “It’s by no means perfect, but by adopting a consumer-centric approach, it created opportunities to change how IT support did business … Initiatives like the BYOD program have pushed IT support from the back streets onto Main Street, where we can listen to our employees, align with their day-to-day work schedules, anticipate the next consumer trends, and break out of our comfort zone to deliver a great customer experience.”

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Dan Ilett