BYOD in practice

By: Chris Hewertson - 30/07/2012

Chris Hewertson is the CIO/VP of Internal Development at Colt. Chris has broad IT leadership experience in both service provider and customer organisations. He is a Chartered IT Professional, Fellow of the Chartered Institute for IT and regularly represents Colt at Industry conferences speaking on a wide range of IT / Change Management related subjects.

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My colleagues and I recently attended the CIO summit in Kilkenny where we spent 2 days with over 60 CIOs from enterprises across Europe.

Colt was the lead sponsor of the event so I found myself delivering the keynote on the first morning of the Summit. A common theme of the event was helping the IT organisation become an enabler of service provision, rather than a technology manager. It seemed a great opportunity to talk about our BYOD programme, or rather what we call our Office of the Future project.

There is no escaping the topic of BYOD right now. A wide range of publications and conference programmes are featuring the subject heavily. But what is the reality of the take up on the ground? How many pan-European enterprises like those attending the Summit with me are actually delivering BYOD to their employees?

According to a recent survey by Info-Tech Research Group, 89% of companies now allow some form of BYOD but what does “allow” really mean? At Colt, we want to enable choice but when surveyed, many organisations seem to be taking the approach of tolerating rather than enabling:

41 percent of all respondents who use their personal devices for work do so without permission from the company

10% of respondents claimed that the company was "fully aware" of the mobile devices their employees were using.

The whole point about enabling choice is that the user has…a choice. At Colt, we still have many employees who use Colt owned laptops and desktops. I am sure this will continue for the foreseeable future but when I walk through the 13 European offices where BYOD is enabled, the employee owned iPad is very much in evidence as are an ever growing number of MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros. This resonates with an internal survey we carried out in 2011 where around 70% of employees indicated that given the choice of personal computer they would opt for an Apple device. In the meantime other employees are benefiting because they no longer carry their laptop between office and home because they login to corporate systems on their home computer using VDI. For them, this technical solution is what delivers the flexibility to help them get their job done.

But what do Colt employees actually think about the experience? Have a look at the Colt video that we made recently in our Belgian office to find out what BYOD actually looks like in practise and you will hear the voices of real Colt employees sharing their experiences.

We are offering our employees choice over what to use, along with when and where to use it but this is a soft benefit and projects are not evaluated by soft measures alone. Our Office of the Future project was a direct response to being faced with the prospect of a major IT infrastructure upgrade and the CAPEX investment that entails. All of our investments were supported by quantifiable measures, e.g. reduced on-site support costs, reduced desktop costs and increased audit compliance.

I spent two days talking to fellow CIOs while at the Summit and each time the discussion turned to how all of the stakeholders in an enterprise like Colt can benefit from BYOD. Through a combination of new technology and good business change management we managed to run a successful pilot, change the way our employees view the IT department for the better (86% of our employees rated the project better or significantly better when compared to previous IT projects) and deliver on the quantifiable objectives agreed at the outset of the project. At the same time we delivered against the core objective of providing a working environment that supports our employees’ success. That sounds like an argument for “allowing” BYOD to me.

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