Are your clients ready to embrace bring-your-own-device (BYOD)? According to a survey by Avaya Professional Services, 64 percent of companies had or plan to have a BYOD policy in place, but 35 percent said they are not prepared to determine the right BYOD architecture or roadmap. Gartner predicts that by 2017 half of all employers will actually require employees to supply their own communications hardware. The BYOD phenomenon has been unstoppable and BYOD readiness had become a primary concern for every IT department.
So how do you help your customers prepare for BYOD? Here are seven key questions that will help you get the conversation going:
1. Who needs BYOD?
Every company will need to deal with BYOD; employees will bring their smartphones and tablet PCs to work and IT will have to cope with them. First, ask what departments really need BYOD support and if employee devices actually need to be formally incorporated into the company infrastructure?
Some job functions clearly need mobile support to access email and documents. The marketing team, for example, may need to use their iPad for portable collaboration. The sales team may need on-the-go-access to the customer database, contracts, or sales collateral. There are hundreds of legitimate applications for BYOD that clearly improve productivity. In fact, the IT team may consider adding their own mobile tools or smartphone apps to enhance operations.
That doesn’t mean all employees have to have access to share YouTube videos or check their Facebook page. Having a clear idea of which departments and which executives really need access is step one in determining BYOD readiness.
2. How are they using BYOD?
Now that you have determined who needs BYOD access, you have to determine what they need. Do your BYOD users just want access to email and shared documents, or do they need something more complex, like access to the sales database?
Take a hard look at what applications employees truly need to do their job more effectively. Can your employees get by using public solutions like Google Docs, or do they need something more sophisticated to do their job? A number of major software vendors are providing mobile apps as an extension to their enterprise or cloud solutions. Determine what your BYOD users really need.
3. Do you have a BYOD use policy?
Once you understand the company’s BYOD requirements, you can start to develop policies and procedures as part of BYOD readiness. Creating a comprehensive BYOD use policy establishes the ground rules for what will and will not be allowed.
The BYOD use policy can cover the types of hardware you will support (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc.) and what is acceptable use for personal devices. For example, you don’t want employees stealing corporate secrets on their iPad, and you don’t want them posting copyrighted material to the company server.
4. Do you have the network capacity for BYOD?
Assessing your wireless network capacity is part of BYOD readiness. A wireless access point can realistically handle only 15 devices comfortably. Can your wireless infrastructure carry the extra load of added personal hardware?
According to a Gartner study, most recently-installed corporate wireless networks will be obsolete by 2015. This is partly due to poor infrastructure planning but mostly due to the demand for more wireless access. BYOD only feeds this frenzy. Enterprise networks are expected to have to deliver 300 percent of current wireless capacity to accommodate BYOD.
5. Have you established security procedures to handle BYOD?
Security is the biggest hurdle in BYOD readiness. How do you enforce policies on devices you don’t control or no longer own? How do you block access to certain users while granting access to others? You need to be able to track devices accessing your network, and determine what authentication is needed for each device.
And what about virus and malware protection? You need to have more robust anti-virus technology, URL filtering, secure remote access, intrusion prevention, and other added security measures.
6. What about BYOD device management?
In addition to security, BYOD readiness requires you to have the means to administer mobile devices. You may need a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to make sure that software versions are up to date, sensitive data is encrypted, and a device that is lost or stolen can be wiped.
7. Do you have a BYOD guest policy?
Of course, you also need to support visitors as well as employees. Does your BYOD readiness plan include a guest user policy? Will you be able to accommodate guest users without compromising your network security?
These are just a few of the questions to consider when assessing BYOD readiness. What did we miss? What’s your biggest BYOD headache?