There’s been a lot said about how BYOD can result in lower costs and increased productivity for businesses. And sentiment the world over seems to be tiding in favour of BYOD, in environments from IT companies to classrooms. This infographic I encountered recently on Forbes from SAP (itself a big proponent of BYOD in its workplace) suggests chatter around the subject is up 14x on last year, and that this chatter is largely positive. So the benefits of BYOD are fast becoming apparent.
But what managers and executives tend to forget is that BYOD can act as a powerful force for attracting and retaining talent. In some ways, this is a direct result of those baseline operational benefits, such as increased productivity by allowing staff to use the devices and software with which they feel most comfortable. It also contributes to those operational benefits, in ways such as reducing the costs associated with recruitment.
Choice as a pull factor
For current and future employees, BYOD represents the promise of familiarity. It eliminates the learning curve of having to adopt a different OS or platform to do one's work; it also tells the employee that the organisation trusts them to make their own decisions about how they work. That degree of mutual respect is particularly important when aiming for top-tier recruits, who will balk if organisational policies get in the way of doing their job as effectively as possible.
BYOD should be thought of as a potentially easier and more efficient way of doing things. It should also be considered the new norm when it comes to engaging with employees. One of the latest surveys into BYOD in the US and Europe found that 78% of organisations already allow BYOD practices in the workplace. In last year alone, it’s been pleasing to see that Australian organisations are becoming more flexible in this area too. The Optus Future of Business - Results and Findings report (p. 34) shows that in 2012, half of Australia's firms already allow employees to bring their laptop, tablet or smartphone to work.
Rather than resisting the consumerisation of IT in the workplace, organisations should focus on making sure BYOD policies are supported by cross-platform security, network access and the other necessities of any IT implementation - which is what BYOD is, even if it uses a number of different devices from different locations.
What is the best way to incorporate BYOD into your business? The answer to that question depends on many things, not least what your employees want out of their workplace. According to Optus' 2012 Future of Business report, 48% of organisations plan to develop proprietary or custom mobile applications for their employees. That sort of investment needs to take into account the personal devices which employees are actually using, from both a compatibility and functional perspective.
By Philip Parker, Optus Business Director of Product Marketing (Mobility). More from Philip on Twitter: @pguestp