“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” – Albert Einstein
In this great quote from the 1930s, we could quite easily substitute the word ‘Life’ with ‘Technology’. While technology remains a competitive differentiator, it can be assumed that most companies have good technology and it is only the laggards that may now work with/employ technology that is sub-par.
The BYO concept has been around in various forms for as long as we have had personal computers and mobile phones. I have been using my personal devices for various work tasks for the last 10 years, albeit until recently, supplemented by corporate technology.
High speed home internet, a massive growth in mobile technology and the rise of the ‘consumer’ cloud are just some of the factors which see employees expecting to take their own personal devices to the corporate environment, and quite rightly they are saying – ‘Why not?’
There are four areas of BYOT interest for Fuji Xerox Australia that I want to expand on and will hopefully explain our motivation for this strategy:
Users’ Preference – Consumers can now enjoy far better access to technology than most companies can supply. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to technology delivery is not going to meet the needs of vastly different users, whether they are an executive who wants a light weight computer for content consumption or a developer who needs processing power. Not only does the selection of hardware not meet personal preferences, the development of Standard Operating Environment (SOE) images would be non-stop; the alternative is that we don’t meet the needs of our users.
Productivity – Computers make us productive by automating complicated tasks with accuracy by simplifying communications and linking information. However, when the user’s technology experience is poor, it becomes a distraction and requires the user to ‘think’ more about how to use the technology than desired. BYOT provides an opportunity for users to simplify their computing experience, standardise to one environment and improve productivity by removing distractions.
Security – The standard ‘fall-back’ position for IT teams is risk management. ‘What will happen to the data?’ Before our BYO technology strategy, we had approximately 1000 staff who were using their personal smartphones and tablets for work. The lack of an acknowledged process and environment to support staff using their own technology at work meant they were ‘innovating’ a range of ‘work-around’ solutions, from emailing data to their personal accounts to finding ‘back doors’ into the corporate email system. So, instead of regarding this as a security risk from a BYO perspective, we had the opportunity to improve security, remove the ‘work-around’ processes, and as such, was able to meet users’ needs.
Cost – None of these improvements will be sustainable over a period of time if Fuji Xerox Australia doesn’t achieve parity of costs with the current model. One of the assumptions in our business model is that the staff who elect to BYO would have otherwise made the same personal investment in the technology, so we did not see the need to compensate staff for hardware costs. That said, we have an effective purchasing support scheme and can provide tax benefits through salary sacrificing of technology purchases. We also provide a monthly telco allowance, and fund the licensing of access software.
We expect to break even over three years from this program and have a target of reducing the actual number of company owned computers by 1000 over the first 18 months – which, if nothing else, is a worthy outcome as it will have a positive effect of reduced manufacturing and consumption on the environment.
Providing our staff with the opportunity to select and use their own computers and/or smartphones in our environment lets them know that we value their input and that we trust them to achieve their work objectives in the way that suits them best. It will not be for everyone and we maintain a traditional SOE for those that would prefer to use the company supplied technology at work.
For more information please see Fuji Xerox Australia’s paper – Mobile Technology: Tablets and Workplace Integration.