The productivity gap that might just be a BYOD gap

An IDC Canada researcher discusses how bring-your-own-device policies need to be augmented with the right security and management approach

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As it stands, 33 per cent of Canadian businesses approve of and have a policy in favour of BYOD, according to IDC Canada. And an almost equal number are planning to in the next 12 months.

But Canadian employees aren’t exactly waiting around for their employer’s policies to catch up with reality: Almost 50 per cent of Canadians are bringing their personal mobile device into work, regardless of whether there’s a policy in place.

That means there’s a disconnect between what businesses are allowing and what’s actually happening, said Krista Napier, manager of mobility and consumer research with IDC Canada, during a recent webcast on Mobile Matters. (More findings can be found in a new report, Mobility in the Canadian Enterprise, which will be released later this month.)

Related: And you thought the first phase of BYOD was tough

Related: How to Make BYOD Secure

But of those businesses that approve of BYOD, most aren’t allowing employees to do much with their personal mobile device aside from accessing corporate email and contact lists.

Few businesses are focusing on BYOD for corporate wikis, collaborative tools, customer relationship management and social networks — and that’s where the real value of BYOD comes in.

Up until now, BYOD was really about boosting employee satisfaction (or the result of a sense of inevitability). But that’s changing. Of course, employee satisfaction is still important, but it’s usually not enough to inspire higher-ups to invest in IT infrastructure — unless there are other benefits, too.

What’s preventing many businesses from moving forward, however, is a concern around security. “It’s a justified concern, especially given the number of devices being supported or managed,” said Napier. On the other hand, some employees are concerned about their personal privacy.

With so many different devices coming into the enterprise, there’s also a concern around how to manage them all. Canadian businesses have a good grip on the basics, such as device synchronization. Where investment needs to be made is in areas like mobile content management, mobile app management and mobile analytics. “This is where the value and meat lies in terms of enabling employees to make better decisions,” said Napier.

Mobile enterprise management is a fragmented market — businesses are having a hard time making sense of it and they’re confused about what they actually need, said Napier. And that’s why many are turning to third-party providers to walk them through it.

If companies really want to take BYOD to the next level, it’s not about “giving in” to its inevitability, but about figuring out where it makes sense in your organization and how it could actually drive productivity. At the end of the day, it’s not about the devices, but about what those devices can do for you.

Executive Brief: Learn how Allstream tackled BYOD

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