How to Migrate from BYOD to Corporate-owned Mobility Strategies

eWEEK DATA POINTS: BYOD brings inherent issues to a company: a marked lack of visibility into how employees are using their devices when compared to traditional computing, resulting in significantly increased exposure to legal liability, cybersecurity risks and mounting operational costs. How to transition off BYOD is a major question being discussed.

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There is a growing consensus that for many organizations, the concept of “bring your own device” (BYOD) is no longer fit for purpose. In short, mobility presents security and other issues that BYOD cannot solve. These problems include a marked lack of visibility into how employees are using their devices when compared to traditional computing, resulting in significantly increased exposure to legal liability, cybersecurity risks and mounting operational costs.

Once IT and security leaders come to this conclusion, there remains an important question that desperately needs answering: How to transition employees away from BYOD?

It’s an important question and a very real challenge for many people working in mobility. Unfortunately, there is no easy quick fix that works for every organization. Instead, leadership must use a blend of techniques that match the unique requirements of their company culture and environment.

Using industry information from NetMotion Software strategist Joel Windels, this eWEEK Data Point article lists some approaches he has seen implemented that can contribute to a successful transition away from BYOD.

Data Point No. 1: Change the expense perk

Pure BYOD fleets with no direct financial responsibility for the business are rare. Most organizations pay for part or all of employee’s mobile data plans. One way to disincentivize BYOD is to gradually reduce the data plan expensing policies. For example, by warning employees that a limit or cap on mobile expensing is incoming (e.g. $30 a month) or that this will be removed altogether soon, employees could well see a switch to a corporate-owned (and paid) configuration as a positive thing.

Data Point No. 2: Acquire the latest handsets

Employees will have a certain expectation around the quality of the device they are using; it’s unlikely that they will want to conduct any work on a corporate device that is three models out of date. Programs such as Apple’s DEP, Samsung KNOX and Android for Work have made it easier than ever for the enterprise to invest and provision the latest devices, helping position a switch away from BYOD as a perk rather than a pest. These devices may have a high CapEx cost, but the reduction in the OpEx costs (e.g. the ongoing maintenance, management, bill shock and remediation/security expenditure) can more than make up for it.

Data Point No. 3: Grandfather the fleet

The easiest, though slowest, approach to moving away from BYOD is simply to grandfather in the existing fleet and adjust employee contracts from a certain date. Henceforth, all new headcount and all new contract renewals include a work-assigned device by default. This tactic alone will take decades to reach 100% corporate-owned, but implemented within a blend of other techniques can be surprisingly effective in changing the culture and expectations of the workforce.

Data Point No. 4: Intelligent policy

All organizations should have an acceptable usage policy for mobile, to prevent access to risky destinations, provide safeguards when using insecure networks and to provide content filtering for inappropriate or recreational use (like Netflix or adult content). These protections are notoriously difficult to provide within BYOD but too strict an enforcement on corporate-owned devices can result in a significant backlash. Mobility leaders are advised to create fair and intelligent policies (such as more liberal usage while connected to Wi-Fi, or more restrictive policies while roaming) that optimize the efficiency of corporate mobility while minimizing any pains of transition away from BYOD.

Data Point No. 5: Department by department

Identifying a particular team that would most benefit–and be most receptive to–a move away from BYOD can be an accessible way to begin the shift. Teams that spend a lot of time working remotely rely on quality connectivity or might be exposed to the most risk all make for suitable candidates to roll out a limited corporate-owned policy. Those departments that are most willing to adopt this approach make for good testbeds to iron out any unforeseen kinks before extending the policy more widely across the business.

Data Point No. 6: Consult your colleagues

When considering a major shift to mobility policy, it’s absolutely vital to spend time with non-technical departments that will be impacted by any change. Obvious candidates are HR leaders, security teams, sales/marketing reps and field workers, people who gather feedback on the pros and cons of the current mobile environment. Understanding the everyday challenges and wish lists of the workforce will provide valuable insights into how best to win workers over. If the move away from BYOD can help solve some of these issues, it’s a validated way to win over potential detractors and get more buy-in for your plan.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...