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The BYOD battle… and the ITSM war

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The BYOD battle.... and the ITSM war

38% of respondents think the IT department should be supporting any personal device, regardless of how much it is used for work purposes.

Pat Bolger is chief evangelist at Hornbill Service Management.

Bolger writes in this guest post for the ITSM Review to underline the big picture that exists across the BYOD landscape and how this use case model has affected and continues to impact the IT service manager’s current set of challenges.

BYOD is an increasingly inevitable feature of the business landscape and its reach is only set to grow. In this current scenario IT departments are under growing pressure to support devices which fall outside of their traditional remit; whilst this presents a challenge, the alternative is a serious impact on the productivity and bottom line of an organisation.

Better the BYOD you know

It shouldn’t be a shock that people prefer using the smartphones, tablets and mobile devices that they know and are familiar with at work. What is surprising is the number of businesses that are failing to deal with BYOD.

Corporate IT departments that do not support the movement risk becoming divorced from both the needs of the business and the expectations of users.

An unwillingness to get to grips with BYOD not only reduces the effectiveness of the IT department; it is also costing UK enterprise (as a whole) dearly. Hornbill recently sponsored an independent study of 1500 UK office workers.

Those surveyed estimated that being able to use their personal device in the workplace would save them two hours a month. When this figure is applied nationally it shows a staggering total of £2 billion in lost productivity across the UK; a stark example for those businesses who are not embracing BYOD.

Taking the Law Into Their Own Hands

“The consensus among the corporate workforce itself summarises the situation best:  53% of office workers said IT departments are failing to keep pace with business needs. Because of this failure, some 40% of employees are taking matters into their own hands and using their personal devices without the permission of the IT department, an issue that will only worsen without intervention.”

The results were even more pronounced amongst workers in the 16-34 years old category; with 49% of 16-24 year olds and 48% of 25-34 year olds saying they would use their devices regardless of IT’s knowledge. The longer businesses fight their employees by failing to offer support, the greater the likelihood they will lose out on potential productivity benefits and further expose themselves to other risks around data security and governance, especially as younger generations enter the workplace.

Who Runs What?

The research also had interesting implications for ITSM teams trying to decide when exactly a device becomes their responsibility. A total of 38% of respondents think the IT department should be supporting any personal device, regardless of how much it is used for work purposes. Whilst this is unfeasible for many ITSM teams, it emphasises that personal devices have become so intrinsically linked with both the work and personal lives of UK workers that many do not draw a line between work or pleasure use.

“Setting employees’ expectations by introducing concise and clear policies around the use of personal devices will help ensure the IT department is not over-stretching itself?”

Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management

Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management

Despite this apparent insistence from employees that IT departments should be on hand for any device, one of the most thought-provoking findings concerns who workers turn to with a problem. A whopping 82% said they would ask a colleague for help with simple IT questions or problems, rather than going directly to the IT department. This willingness to use peer-to-peer (P2P) or community knowledge can work in the favour of the IT department; fostering this kind of activity, offering self-service tools and hosting discussion forums, means IT departments can save a significant amount of time in dealing with ‘utility’ or ‘fire-fighting’ issues.

Ultimately, reticence in getting behind BYOD is damaging both the reputation and effectiveness of IT departments; businesses need to start looking at BYOD as something which can actually be of benefit, rather than just an operational and technical headache. In short, BYOD must be a movement which supports the ITSM team, rather than holding it back. The consumerisation of IT may not yet be complete, but IT departments can still reap the benefits of a much needed upgrade.

Pat Bolger is chief evangelist at Hornbill Service Management.

Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian is Editor of The ITAM Review and ITSM Review. Adrian is also regular writer and blogger with Computer WeeklyDr. Dobb’s Journal and other IT publications. Connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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  • http://www.itskeptic.org/ Rob England (The IT Skeptic)

    2 hours a month of productivity balanced against what? You didn’t say Pat. What’s the cost of securing that device (yeeees Chris: securing the data on that device and the data that device will have behind-the-firewall access to) and the cost of connecting and supporting an uncontrolled diversity of non-standard operating environments? balanced against two hours per employee per month.
    That’s a business case decision for every organisation to make without having scorn and derision heaped on them for making it.

  • Patrick Bolger

    Rob, the article wasn’t intended to scorn or derise, but it was meant to be a wake up call. You hit the nail on the head – BYOD is a business decision. The issue is that many IT groups still view Business and IT decisions as two separate things. In the case of BYOD, many businesses have already made a decision without consulting IT. Whether it’s wise, or ill-informed, isn’t the point. Waiting to see how the BYOD issue pans out, or arguing against it, is not the best response. At the very least, IT groups need to understand what devices (and apps) are being used and for what purposes. At least we’re then in a position to have meaningful discussions around the topic and can provide input on the risks and costs associated.

    • http://www.itskeptic.org/ Rob England (The IT Skeptic)

      Agreed we need to understand and try to get some handle on what’s going on.

      I didn’t mean to imply this article was heaping scorn, sorry. but it certainly is a common behaviour right now :)

      The bit I am skeptical about is that the financial benefits are quite as abundant as are made out, hence I jumped on the 2-hours thing. There are huge costs associated with accommodating BYOD. I still think a lot of the driver is staff having a spoiled tantrum cos they want their shiny toys rather than real nett business benefit

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