Monday, August 13, 2012

How Significant is BYOD to a Company’s Buying Strategy?

(By Shafaq Rizvi)

While developing an IT buying strategy, the CIOs usually look for the technology that is best and suitable in all respects. As soon as the decision is made, the CIO starts fretting about integration and acquisition costs. Their consternations are mainly related to security issues and whether the technology they are purchasing is capable to fulfill their needs. A great deal of time is often given to carrying out a cost-benefit analysis and identifying the most best-fit vendor, but is it enough on the CIO’s part?

Essentially, this is what seems to be all that is wanted from CIOs. While making a purchase decision, however, there is something, which requires equal attention, but is not always taken into account. It is the employees’ input.

Employees’ Wants: Do they Matter?

It is generally believed that employees are the backbone of an organization. Although the concept is theoretically a maxim to management, it is ignored much the same in IT Procurement as is in other organizational practices. It is a fact indeed that a satisfied employee is the prolific employee, however, to drive satisfaction it is essential to understand and fulfill the wants and requirements of employees, but are CIOs catering to the wants of employees?

As the technology advanced, it replaced the conventional desktops and laptops with hardware conveniently mobile. Proliferation of iPads, iPhones and Androids has changed the way things used to be done at workplaces and elsewhere before. At present, employees prefer to work through devices and technology that they want and find easy and this has led to the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which allows employees to bring in to the office self-owned devices to access resources of a business and perform business functions.

As, Mr. Adam Hurting, stated in the article “Tools They Want to Use”, providing tools to the employee that they want to use can have positive effects on the performance of an employee and success of the company.  Seeming to be asserting on and supporting BYOD policy, he believes that employees, at present, oppose the dictated environment.  According to him, the employees don’t want to use the technology that is defined to them. If the employees are compelled to use a predefined technology, this influences how they work and also affects the success of company. The matter of choice, thus, could lead to discontentment in employees. [1]

When a company develops a buying strategy the focus is usually on analyzing costs, the extent to which the new acquisition is safe and fits the needs, but one thing that is overlooked by the company is for whom this acquisition is being made by the company. They keep in mind the purpose of acquisition and purchase, but some how ignore the fact that for whom this purchase is being done and who will be directly related to and can be affected by the new acquisitions/technology. Purchasing a sophisticated technology will not generate any benefit unless it is understandable and easy to use at the users’ end. Companies have two options here. Either purchase a technology without analyzing users’ wants or allow the employees/users to bring the technology they want to choose.

The second option may be sounding feeble, senseless, and absurd, but it is not. Imagine the costs that the company will have to incur if they acquire a technology without considering how easy it is for users. Wouldn’t the company have to incur training costs anyways? Here the CIOs can play a critical role in suggesting the right path. Based on the benefits, as suggested by Mr. Adam Hurting, it seems BYOD can drive many benefits at company’s end.

Significance of BYOD

IT specialists and innovators seem to argue that providing employees the devices they want to use will result in better performance, more productivity, and success of the company[2]. They seem to believe that imposing on them the  technology CIOs or the companies want them to use will only affect the ability of employees to pan out. .

However, as mentioned above, when a company is planning to acquire a technology, the choices and wants of employees and how much a technology is user-friendly and desirable are overlooked by the CIOs. In this situation, the CIOs need to act differently. They need to act as marketers.[3] When CIOs takes on the role of a marketer their perspectives change and they think in a different manner. It is when the employees become consumers/customers of the CIOs. When CIOs start acting as marketers, they only focus on things that are desired by their internal customers (employees). The extent to which the desires and wants of the internal customers are fulfilled decides that profits and success of the company, which is the case of organizations too. Whether the employees work within the company or from different geographical locations, it is the responsibility of the CIO as marketer to identify their needs/wants and fulfill them as desired.

Therefore, CIOs need to change their perspective as providing employees the devices and tools of their choice can lead to enhancements in the business processes. Changing perspective implies seeing employees as customers and fulfilling their requirements. It is about winning them just like companies try to win their external customers to expand business and generate profits,  but does winning employees imply gaining?

Under the BYOD policy, employees use tools of their choice. This way, the employees consider and use the device as their own property, which saves money for the company. This saving, in turn can be used at later stage while procuring a new technology or in important investments made by the company.

In addition to this, employees feel empowered and work actively and perform beyond the superior’s expectations. Nevertheless, BYOD policy can become less effective if it goes outside the premises of the workplace. Moreover, before implementing BYOD policy, it is important to see if it has clash with the company’s policy on monitoring, task allocation and reporting. Here, we’d like to relate to certain findings from State of the CIO Survey 2012. A part of the survey addressed companies, belonging to the local industry, on their policy on task allocation, monitoring, and reporting and if they operate from more than one geographic location. Following were the results:

Geographical Location:

  • 36% (19) companies were found to be operating from more than one location intercity, intracity, and internationally with around 10 branches.
  • 15% (10-50) companies suggested they operate intercity, intracity, and internationally with 10-50 branches.
  • 34% (18) companies were found to have more than 50 branches operating intercity, intracity, and internationally
  • 15% (8) companies were found to have no branches, operating form one geographical region.

Company’s Policy on Task Allocation, Monitoring, and Reporting:

  • 77% (41) companies suggested they use Centralized Organizational Structure
  • 19% (10) companies told they have Decentralized and Distributed Organizational Structure
  • 4% (2) companies commented “Other”

The results indicated that within local industry, 77% companies have centralized approach towards task allocation, monitoring, and reporting, which explicitly suggests that BYOD policy cannot be applied to these organizations as the processes are centrally controlled â€" not in control of employees. However, it can work here the structure is distributed and decentralized.

As far as geographical location is concerned, most of the companies operate from more than one location. In that case, BYOD policy could be applicable but costly for companies as employees may be working in different time frames, beyond official working hours using the same network. Therefore, BYOD is not always cost-effective, however can be made.

Mixing the survey findings and nature of BYOD, companies, which aim for better control over organizational issues and processes, cannot opt for BYOD. Such companies only believe in directing things to employees and allow the use of only those technologies that they find cost-effective, advanced, and right for their company. This controlling nature of some companies clashes with the nature of BYOD. BYOD can yield more in less-controlled environments, where importance is given to employees’ choices, ease, and ideas.

CIOs need to think differently. By ensuring simplicity and ease at employees’ end, one can make certain the success of the business. Instead of purchasing expensive solutions, applications, and tools, letting employees work according to BYOD policy will save the companies from high-priced purchases and enable the employees to investigate some useful applications for the company. Nevertheless, under BYOD policy, the company loses control of the devices, which it has otherwise and this raises a menace to security of company’s important and confidential information.

[1] “Tools they Want to Use,” pg. 18 CIO, May 2011, Vol.2, no. 10

[2] “Tools they Want to Use,” pg. 18 CIO, May 2011, Vol.2, no. 10,

[3] “Tools they Want to Use,” pg. 18 CIO, May 2011, Vol.2, no. 10,



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