As the “consumerization” of IT has propelled the buzz around workplace mobility enablement to reach a fever pitch, the “bring your own device” (BYOD) approach has become an oft-utilized solution. Faced with two emerging trends – an upward shift in employee demand expectations for what workplace technologies should accomplish, and a shift in market position between RIM’s Blackberry, Apple/iOS, and Android – IT functions have begun to question whether the provisioning of endpoint devices is wise.
Indeed, survey data indicates that even among self-described “technology skeptics,” a majority of employees are already using personally-owned tablets, smartphones, or computers for work purposes. These developments have led many IT executives to conclude that a BYOD approach is central to employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. Our 2011 Emerging Technology Roadmap reflects this trend, with over half of IT organizations planning to institute a “bring your own” program for mobile devices by mid-2012.
This trend is not unique to the private sector. In fact, Government Executive’s recent article outlining “5 Trends in Mobility” includes the BYOD wave front and center, a phenomenon seemingly buoyed by U.S. Chief Information Officer Steven VanRoekel’s vocal embrace of the power of mobility: “Going mobile doesn’t just increase productivity, but it’s a huge cost saver too.” Leading government analysts agree, calling BYOD the “dominant trend in many civilian agencies” and 2012 “the year that tablets become firmly embedded in the government space.”
However, government IT should not assume that the implementation of a BYOD strategy adequately addresses ever-changing employee and business demands for mobility support. Survey data collected from nearly 10,000 knowledge workers indicates that employees both young and old care relatively little about whether their endpoint technologies are personally or corporately owned. What matters far more is whether their technologies are easy to use and intuitive, and facilitate working environment flexibility, regardless of ownership. IT organizations must understand that these characteristics – not the device – define employee demand before formulating a strategy to respond.
VanRoekel’s contention is valid – mobile connectivity may very well foster increased productivity and cost savings across government – but only if mobility strategy is calibrated to the needs of the user first, device second. CEB research findings point to an alternative approach to BYOD that can drive enhanced productivity gains and cost savings:
Tailor mobility investments to the needs of distinct employee profiles. Some organizations have utilized monitoring of employee IT resource usage to gauge mobility demand across different employee segments. This process has helped organizations identify those segments that have a greater need for mobility than others. Other organizations have used observational or “anthropological” techniques – such as surveys and interview questions – to understand how work is accomplished in mobile environments and to identify unarticulated needs. Whatever the approach departments and agencies deem most feasible to implement, one thing is certain: in the absence of segmentation strategies, IT is at risk of over-provisioning network and application resources to employees who may not require them – risking costs that can outweigh productivity gains elsewhere.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about emerging trends in public sector mobility.