Tech Debate: Is BYOD better than company issued?

The BYOD craze is sweeping organizations everywhere, but questions abound, everything from security and compliance to cost control/management.While BYOD lets IT piggyback on user enthusiasm for new productivity tools, is the risk worth it?

The Experts
Joe Donnici
Joe Donnici

Vice President of Core IT at Quintiles argues that IT needs to evolve and welcome the new opportunities made possible by BYOD. View debate

Randy Witt
Randy Witt

Director of Information Technology at Restaurant Technologies, Inc. questions whether the proclaimed benefits of BYOD really hold up under scrutiny. View debate

Joe Donnici

BYOD is better

BYOD is to Big IT what that meteor was to the dinosaurs. The consumer technology explosion has sealed the fate of Big IT with its corporate-issued locked-down devices. Our planet today has more mobile computing devices than human beings, so those organizations prepared to adapt and support BYOD will thrive while those who feel adaptation is somehow optional will likely meet the alternative consequence of the evolutionary process.

June 2007 the iPhone arrives and soon millions of people are walking around with more capability in their pockets than Big IT has ever been able to provide them. In 2008 blossoming social media and a crushing recession further widen the gap between people’s expectations and what Big IT can deliver. And then in 2009, the iPad provides individual consumers with the portable power and flexibility that Big IT could only muster for an elite fraction of its user base.

Big IT can no longer compete with the variety of devices and pace of innovation available to individuals. And even if they could, they should not. Most people now own very capable devices and personal preference is strong. Trying to require them to stick to standard-issue corporate devices is a losing battle with unintended consequences. Suddenly, the very controls you put in place to maintain security are influencing people to email company documents to their Gmail accounts in order to work in a way that suits them best.

[ALSO: How to avoid BYOD disasters]

The bring your own movement favors smaller and/or lean IT departments that have little to no overhead for device management because employees are expected to supply their own mobile phone, tablet and/or laptop. In these ‘evolved’ organizations, the on-boarding of a new employee is now, ”Hello, what is your mobile phone number and iPad mac address so we can update our records and add you to our network?”

BYOD isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, of course, and it’s not right for every situation. However, in adapting for a BYOD option, organizations are forced to look at security and application delivery models differently. Start with the assumption that you must support a variety of devices in your environment that are not secure. This requires you to build a more durable, dynamic security model and adopt more streamlined processes for delivering applications and services. The security implications of BYOD are typically the biggest concern. Security is strengthened by enabling a flexible model that staff can work within productively while protecting sensitive content. A successful design acknowledges the device belongs to the employee and does not attempt to assimilate it into the Big IT corporate model. Employees expect freedom to be productive beyond the confines of 9 to 5 and don’t take kindly to policies that force a corporate lockdown of their phone or tablet. They’ll find ways around such policies in an effort to be more productive.

For the IT manager, it's about providing services to the end user device in a cost effective manner with high resiliency and redundancy. The cost savings for BYOD lies in reducing or removing the arduous cycle of procuring, provisioning, securing, managing and retiring of corporate owned devices. But the real value is the resilience of managing a device-agnostic solution.

Our ability to quickly react and enable our employees to leverage their own devices following the 2010 earthquake in Chili, the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, and the political unrest in Egypt that prevented employees from leaving their houses was a testimony that our environment was successfully evolving. Today, there are several thousand users accessing our corporate environment daily using their own laptops and smartphones for all the services they require.

For the CIO, the value proposition for BYOD lies in being a leader who encourages the latest mobile innovations while driving employee passion and productivity. It’s about being able to offer employees choice and flexibility on how they can be most productive, while also driving down the cost of commodity services. In a BYOD environment, employees are truly empowered to discover apps and services that improve personal productivity and business innovation. This is where consumerization of IT really delivers returns.

According to Darwin, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. Lean IT will prosper by reducing costs, embracing consumerization, and enabling choices for their employees. As for Big IT, if you haven’t already begun enabling your BYOD capabilities, you may well be destined for the undesirable consequence of this evolution. BYOD is here to stay.

Quintiles is the world's largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services with a network of more than 27,000 employees conducting business in approximately 100 countries.

Randy Witt

Just say no to BYOD

Symantec’s State of Mobility Survey shows the top applications used by mobile employees are email, Web browser, contacts, calendar, instant messaging and Office applications. Almost every one of our employees has a company issued mobile device that can support these needs. Our distribution team and field service technicians have a ruggedized device, while corporate employees, sales and management have smart phones.

So, given the fact that company-issued mobile devices are getting the job done, when the question about BYOD comes up we have to ask if the effort supports the strategic goals of the organization. Will BYOD help generate revenue, cut costs or increase employee productivity? With the heavy demands on IT today we can’t afford to add layers of support, increase costs or let anything else distract us from efforts that create business value.

[ALSO: Avoiding BYOD blunders]

I have heard that BYOD will allow an individual to be more productive, but attempts to quantify the claim have been difficult. If I give a salesman a smartphone or tablet of their choice, would they in turn accept an increase in their sales forecast? If they are more productive, they should be able to, right?

How about the service organization? Can more locations be serviced per technician with a device of their choosing? Collaboration and convenience should go up, but it is difficult to quantify in hard dollars what benefits we would really see. Please don’t confuse BYOD with mobility in general. Mobility options are extremely important to our organization, but we provide an approved device.

I have also heard that recruitment will be more difficult if BYOD is not offered. We employ 750 employees nationwide and have yet to hear that an offer of employment was declined because there was no BYOD option. We are actively listening for this feedback, however it is not something we have heard…yet.

I have heard, however, some employees can be dissatisfied by the need to carry two devices (one personal and one corporate issued). If desired, we allow individuals to port a number over to the corporate plan and, if an individual leaves, the number can be ported back to a personal plan. We currently do not restrict employees from using corporate issued devices for personal use.

From a reimbursement standpoint, we have a national agreement with one carrier. My organization covers the cost of the line service and it is budgeted and covered by each departmental cost center. The two- to three-year contract with the carrier includes a volume commitment that results in a price that is much lower than an individual could obtain. Cost per line of service is also much more favorable under a corporate account vs. an individual account. Other benefits are pooling of minutes and data plans can drive down costs and minimize overages.

We have established a single standard smartphone all eligible employees are issued. By focusing on a standard, we position the IT Service Desk to be in a better position to support questions that may arise. Less confusion, less frustration and higher overall first call resolution rates. Having a standard also means many questions may be answered by coworkers instead of a call to the Service Desk.

From an operations perspective, we use an MDM solution to manage our fleet of corporate issued smartphones. In doing so, we can better manage the assets (model, version, location) to better standardize and help with Release and Deployment Management efforts.

As far as security, I understand that individuals may attempt to use their BYOD devices at work whether it is allowed or not. This does provide a challenge, however it is not only a BYOD issue, it is controlling where necessary the movement of data from corporate systems to cloud, personal email, etc. We have controls in place whereby if a BYOD device attempts to connect to corporate email, the system is quarantined until an approval is provided. The same is true via VPN. These controls are are within Exchange and our perimeter security systems.

From an organizational standpoint, corporate provisioned devices do enforce use of strong passwords. Antivirus protection is installed and the MDM control makes it possible to wipe sensitive data if the device is lost or stolen. Security controls can also block outdated or infected devices from accessing the corporate network and block unwanted apps.

We feel that mobility is important, however we question BYOD at the present time. While we are field testing multiple smartphones and tablets, for reasons outlined, BYOD is not right for Restaurant Technologies today.

Restaurant Technologies, Inc. (RTI) is the leader in smart, safe, sustainable oil and operations management technology for the food service industry. The company’s fully automated oil storage, handling and disposal management system helps increase worker safety, improve restaurant cleanliness and minimize frying oil inconveniences. RTI data-management solutions provide restaurant decision-makers with increased visibility into oil usage for better food quality and consistency. Headquartered in Mendota Heights, Minn., RTI serves more than 19,000 customers via 41 oil depots throughout the U.S. Visit RTI online at

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