Dear CIO, Want to Be a Hero? Embrace BYOD

Recent trends in enterprise mobility and smart devices, like tablets and smartphones, are giving users more choices and power through the use of customized and personalized devices at home, and in the office. We can customize our devices based on application use, bandwidth need, work load and location. These choices and the ability to Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) to work is allowing people to be more happy, creative, productive and valuable as unique individuals rather than restricted to group options. This is why many organizations today are allowing employees and other users to use a variety of devices in the corporate network, regardless of whether they are owned by the organization or the individual's BYOD.

As a result of these benefits, many organizations have asked their IT departments to allow BYOD to enable users to connect these personal devices to the corporate infrastructure so that users can have full access to specific services, based on user profile and devices used -- without compromising security and adding more staff. Organizations that in the past restricted BYOD due to security and support concerns are today allowing it because they realize that it gives them a competitive advantage. In some cases it actually keeps them in business. This is why many CIOs today are embracing BYOD.

Here are five ways CIOs can improve their business by adopting BYOD:

Fulfilling Users' needs and earning their loyalty - As stated earlier, the primary driver for BYOD comes from employees, students, customers and other users who are demanding choice and flexibility to use their personal devices anywhere/anytime. Allowing BYOD makes sense for enterprises whether they directly charge for it (like in a hotel), provide it for free to promote more purchases (like distributing promotional coupons at a mall) or simply improve the user experience in order to encourage patrons to attend a venue (like getting sports fans to go to a game rather than watch it at home on their big screen TVs). For example, the New England Patriots recently deployed Wi-Fi and BYOD at the Gillette stadium to make sure patrons keep coming to games rather than stay home. "We have to figure out how to give them an experience that's different from home. Live viewing is at risk, unless you make it more engaging, special and unique," stated Jonathan Kraft, president of the NE patriots during a recent CIO Mobility summit.

Increased Employee productivity - Businesses are learning that employees become more productive when they use the tools they prefer. A recent survey by Dell concluded that "approximately 70 percent of companies believe BYOD can improve their work processes and help them work better in the future, while an estimated 59% believe they would be at a competitive disadvantage without BYOD." One way to measure increase in productivity is to look at increase in revenue dollars by adopting BYOD. The average revenue per employee for S&P 500 companies is $420K per year. Let's conservatively assume that for non S&P 500 it is an average of $210K in revenue per employee. Now let's look at productivity gain - studies show 10-25 percent in productivity improvements because of BYOD. Intel reported a 57 minutes a day or 12 percent increase in productivity when its 17,000 Intel employees were allowed to bring personal devices to work in 2011. Using a conservative number of 10 percent, this means that for a 1000 employee organization, BYOD can potentially increase revenue by $21M annually.

Cost savings - Some businesses have reported that BYOD helps them save money by no longer requiring the purchase of company devices. A great example is VMware whose CIO, Mark Egan, recently reported that the company saved $2 million by going "all-in" on BYOD. This point is a bit controversial as some might argue that the savings gained by no longer purchasing employee devices is not as significant as the additional cost of deploying and supporting BYOD. However, with the right BYOD solution considerable savings can be achieved. A BYOD solution should cost no more than eight per device. Assuming an organization spends $200 CAPEX per device with a two year commitment, this translates to a savings of $192 per device or $192,000 for a 1000-person company. The small incremental cost of IT will definitely be offset by the savings in annual maintenance for corporate devices, since employees will now be using and responsible for their personal devices

Improve Operational efficiencies - The right BYOD solution can enable a business to easily learn about the types of devices and users on their network, the applications they use, when and how they use them, bandwidth used, popular locations and most active times -- all without infringing on user privacy. For example, IT may learn that the printers or Access Points on one floor may be under utilized while another floor may need more capacity. Rather than investing in more capital, these resources can be easily moved around without additional expense while improving network capacity and user satisfaction.

Gain business intelligence for new ideas - Network business intelligence consists of collecting complex network usage data, analyzing it and turning this data into actionable information that can help a business see trends and user behavior not just for network efficiency but also for new ideas. This is part of what IDC calls the "Intelligent Economy." For example, imagine a mall providing free Wi-Fi - they could know all the users with iPhones, iPad, etc. They could know the bandwidth usage, Apps, Websites, shops they have visited in the mall, etc. Advanced analytics may show that patrons coming to the theaters do not visit the stores unless they receive electronic coupons when they arrive. The data collected on usage and user behavior, if used correctly, is incredibly powerful in looking at trends and innovating new ways of delighting the customers and increasing revenues.

Today, smart organizations do not see BYOD as a threat or an expense, but rather as an opportunity. The right solution not only lowers your expenses but also improves user satisfaction and productivity, but also provides a wealth of valuable information for new ideas. This is the right way to look at BYOD for your business. CIO's can become a hero to their company and fellow employees.

This post was co-authored by Ali Kafel (Twitter: @akafel).