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By Sheila Bacon, BGGMobile Strategist

The rise of the anytime, anywhere information workplace is in full swing. People are bringing their own devices including smartphones, tables, laptops and desktops in increasing numbers to the work place. Bring your own device (BYOD) is catching fire across companies as employees seek to use personal devices at work to access information and be more productive. BYOD is not a fad, it is a different kind of enterprise computing. Successfully planning and implementing a BYOD program to improve workforce mobility is no small task. There are many considerations to be aware of in order to get everyone on board across a broad spectrum of mobility issues. Below are nine steps to consider:

1. Planning/Design Considerations

Engage Stakeholders: Create a manageable-but-representative committee of key influencers from all relevant departments. Be sure to include the CEO or a designated representative so you have buy-in and visible support from the top.

Identify Targets: Using your committee, create and prioritize a list of necessary applications and desired use cases for personal devices.

Take A Pulse: IT will ultimately decide which devices to support, but a quick poll of your committee (or your entire workforce, if that’s possible) can identify promising places to start the evaluation.

Work With Legal & HR: Throughout the process, you’ll need to work with your Legal and Human Resources teams to build your policies, service and support agreements and other procedures. Having a representative on the committee will help you identify potential complications before they become problems.

Engage a Mobile Strategist: Mobile’s explosive growth has introduced challenges to working with the various operating systems and configurations, a person who has the role to work with product managers, marketers, and sales for external mobile activities (normally focused on competitive differentiation), then deal with internal IT teams to expand mobility for employees. A mobile strategist is responsible for developing a roadmap for implementing mobile plans, policies, and tactics that align with business goals.

2. Total Cost of Ownership Considerations
BYOD will not usually show cost-savings up-front. Don’t plan on offsetting development costs with hardware savings, as personal devices will typically supplement your existing work devices, rather than replace them. Properly implemented BYOD can expand your device footprint at close to zero cost.

3. User Experience and Security of Data Considerations
Traditional IT operations focus on maintaining and securing the PC device image, including the operating system, applications, data and personal settings. In a BYOD environment full of disparate devices, this strategy crumbles. The goal of a BYOD program should be a security model that follows the user across multiple device classes in a variety of situations. On a practical level, that requires a shift from securing device images to securing data, at rest and in transit.

4. BYOD Policy Considerations
It’s a good idea to document your plans in a privacy policy. Be very clear about how you plan to do so, how and where you plan to store the data, and when and how you will dispose of it. Include your legal department to draft policies and HR to help implement procedures to keep your employees apprised of changes.Create a usage policy, which will outline safe usage practices and prohibit any behavior that could put the company at risk.

5. Development Considerations
Giving users choices doesn’t mean you have to support everything. In fact, if you’re going to get the most out of your BYOD system, you shouldn’t support everything. Because devices change constantly and new form factors are continuing to emerge, beginning the selection with specific devices can be tricky and expensive. You should evaluate operating systems first, then devices. IT should work toward device support based on that decision. Selecting a dominant, uniform operating system (OS) environment can allow IT to leverage existing security and performance benefits.

6. Mobilization Tool Considerations
To maximize mobilization tools try to find vendor solutions that can minimize the number of integration points in your system by sharing applications, hardware. Define shared platforms using a common OS and hardware across the enterprise. Mobile Applications Management (MAM) software to secure, monitor, manage and support mobile devices over the network. Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to with lock down features allowing access to filesystem with a properly implemented MDM locking down feature to prevent liability from and unsecured 3G or 4G connection. MDM lets corporations provide employees with access to the internal networks using a device of their choice, whilst these devices are managed remotely with minimal disruption to employees’ schedules. Low-level hardware functionality that provides system control below the operating system layer is extremely helpful, as it allows IT to manage, wipe and potentially recover sensitive data from hardware that has fallen out of compliance or may not be properly functioning.

7. Ongoing Security Management Considerations

Having a blend of security controls such as: Two factor authentication, secure storage using encryption, secure policy settings and restrictions, secure data transmission to and from the network, remote wipe capabilities, server side virus protection to name a few.

8. Ongoing Employee Education Considerations

Employees understand their own devices and your corporate network, but they may be unaware of how to manage the union of the two. It’s important to provide initial and ongoing education on new security risks and the proper conduct required to minimize them. For example, an employee’s child may use work tablets in off-hours to view videos. In this case, simple steps, such as creating user profiles on the device and avoiding password-sharing can dramatically reduce the likelihood of accidental data loss.

9. User Feedback Considerations

User needs and consumer hardware continue to evolve, and so should your BYOD program. You won’t get everything done in your first iteration, and you’ll want to engage your user committee to review hits and misses to plan Phase Two. Having everyone involved keeps everyone accountable, and it ensures that IT will be seen as a critical business partner – not a roadblock.