In the smartphone and tablet era, people have become used to flexible cloud apps and intelligent devices, even if they don’t realise it.
Having grown used to them in their personal lives, employees are now looking for the same type of choice and flexibility from corporate hardware and applications.
In turn, this has led to sustained demand for flexible, on-the-go-working, with Gartner predicting that, by 2018, more than half of business users will use a tablet or smartphone first for all online activities.
In this changing landscape, a clear strategy for BYOD and enterprise mobility is key to giving staff, clients and partners greater flexibility across devices and channels. For IT, this is also likely to involve looking at cloud-based solutions and mobile application development, which must be balanced with strict security considerations.
>See also: 3 pillars of enterprise mobility
Ahead of Interop, the flagship event of London Technology Week, we catch up with three senior IT decision makers on their current and future strategies for enterprise mobility.
Mobility is a current priority for IT at this global fitness chain. However, rather than going all in with BYOD, Hiten Vadukul, enterprise architect at Virgin Active, believes ‘choose your own device’ (CYOD) may make a better fit for the business.
“One of the biggest challenges with BYOD is the sheer number of devices you would need to support, not to mention the time and cost involved in ensuring corporate applications work consistently across these devices. For these reasons, we are exploring the use of CYOD but using the job an employee does to determine the type of devices they are offered.
“Keeping the list of devices small allows them be managed effectively, reduces the support impact on IT – compared to BYOD – and ensures the business applications deployed work as expected.
“Ultimately, the purpose of mobility should be to support collaboration and seamless working. As part of our workplace strategy, we are looking to standardise the user experience across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. We expect that the adoption of cloud-based solutions such as Office 365 will also reduce deployment times and ensure we are always on the same software version across all devices.”
Keeping employees across both sides of the pond connected, David Self, head of PMO at UBM, explains why company-controlled devices and high-level security support UBM’s flexible and international working policies.
“We’ve looked at BYOD and, on an exceptional basis, we do enable some devices. We also allow connection to a desktop from personal PCs via two-factor authentication. In the main however, we supply company devices to give us more control over the applications that are used and managed. We do have a number of people that work flexibly or frequently travel between offices and we have found that this solution works well for them.
“Eighteen months ago, we integrated our US and UK IT teams to provide a single support team for UBM Americas and UBM EMEA. In practical terms, this has meant creating a common base, gradually standardising on authentication, laptop specifications and telephony systems. This means I can go to any US office, plug in my laptop and I’m on the same network with local support able to assist.
“Studies consistently show that employees themselves are one of the biggest risks when it comes to security. For this reason, we make sure all company devices are equipped with high-level security applications so that, if they are lost or stolen, this doesn’t open us up to problems.”
Having already explored BYOD with limited success, David Stanley, head of IS Operations at thetrainline.com, says his 350-strong organisation has reverted back to company-managed devices and is using cloud solutions to enable flexible working.
“Having dabbled with a BYOD policy we found it was problematic in terms of the number of people who thought they wanted to take part until it was explained to them. There were also other unexpected and non-technical challenges around policies. Also, we would have had to invest in additional security and network monitoring software that would have actually impeded access.
“Feedback from users showed that most people were happy with the devices supplied to them. These are refreshed at least every three years and we make sure the developers have powerful devices. We have recently started giving out the option for a Surface 3 over a smaller laptop, so it hasn’t been a problem.
“Moving to Office 365 also means people can easily work from home without a VPN. Accommodating flexible working and mobility has never really been a challenge – we’ve always had the appropriate security controls in place to facilitate it.”