10 steps to successfully build a BYOD-friendly collaborative enterprise

Employees are bringing requirements and expectation levels to the workplace based on their experiences in the consumer world. They want to use their own devices, and cannot understand why they can't collaborate, search and connect to business applications while on the move. Delivering on such expectations is difficult.

A survey from the Unified Communications Expo 2012 show, compiled by Bitdefender, shows that a majority of organisations (64%) believe the vast majority of their employees want to use their personal devices for business purposes under a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme.

The survey, which gathered the attitudes and opinions of over 100 business execs attending the show, found the main reason employees want to use their own device for work - such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone - is because it is more convenient to use the same device for both personal and business use. This is closely followed by the fact that employees prefer the look and feel of their personal phone/device.

The survey confirms that most employers (62%) are under more pressure to introduce mobile or flexible working practices than they were five years ago. Furthermore, the research shows that businesses are under prepared to handle the implications of BYOD with 56% not having policies, procedures or systems in place to manage employees’ personal devices for work purposes.

So what can you do about it? Here are 10 tips I picked up at the conference that could help you implement BYOD or UC policies into your workplace:

1. get management on board

Firms that get the boss on board from the start will benefit from greater understanding of the policies and a voice of authority in support of the regulations. If they understand how it works, they can encourage the workforce to follow suit and offer extra training and support.

At the very highest levels executives are pushing for the BYOD culture. (50% of CIOs will purchase tablets for employees in 2012, says Morgan Stanley).

2. enable user presence on the devices

Tapping into user potential and embedding presence systems into business processes will help to build morale among employees and encourage sharing of ideas. However, firms must develop etiquettes first if this is to run in a secure and efficient manner.

3. focus on usability

Enterprises must ensure that any BYOD-specific tools are easy to use and run a smooth active directory contacts migration. The aim is to enable users to continue work and communications in an easy manner without risking company assets. It’s easy! Just take a look at this handy infographic – learn some fast facts, fun figures and get some general UC know how!

4. run virtual knowledge transfer

Unified Communications works best if you do just that, unify. Virtual knowledge applications such as WebEx, video training and remote desktop tools can really help an enterprise employee, so long as it is suitably protected with adequate permission protocols.

5. encourage homeworking

Staff benefit from technology and it encourages them to bring said benefits to the business. The trend to BYOD improves job satisfaction, commitment and productivity, because it allows individuals to take charge of one key element of their workplace existence -- the tools they use to do their job.

According to an iPass survey of 1,100 mobile workers, “employees who use mobile devices for both work and personal issues put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not.”

6. create change champions

Having someone to say how UC/BYOD benefits teams will have the same effect as management endorsement. A good champion will be able to encourage behavioural change through initiatives such as running project workshops and developing best practices etc.

7. take advantage of tools such as HD Voice

BYOD and UC will help companies exploit the latest technologies and capabilities in the most appropriate ways. For example HD audio can be used for voice calls, ensuring clarity for all communications wherever a user is. DTS , a mandatory audio format in the Blu-ray Disc standard, is targeting the mobile market following the success of recent partnerships with Huawei and LG.

A recent survey by DTS and YouGov showed that 74% of respondents were convinced that DTS sounds better than today’s typical audio experience. Furthermore, almost half (49%) of those surveyed indicated that highest quality sound is an important factor, with 36% willing to pay for a downloadable application significantly improving the audio experience.

8. generate buzz

This can easily be achieved through initiatives such as running internal communications, putting out a newsletter, taking up social media slots, earning mentions in company meetings or even just writing on a blog just like this.

9. using devices to hold meetings & update calls

Enterprises can create and develop set meeting procedures using the UC mechanisms that can operate company-wide

10. holding a no-email day

If you want to virtualise your working environment, then try to break the dependence on emails for all staff with a dedicated blackout day, encouraging staff to work differently and use the collaboration tools to communicate instead. By 2016, at least 50% of enterprise email users will rely primarily on a browser, tablet or mobile client instead of a desktop client," predicts Gartner.


photo © El Gaucho - Fotolia.com

Nicolas Jacquey
Joe Fernandez

Joe Fernandez is a technology writer and blogger for Futurity Media. As a journalist, he was an editor on Computer Weekly and Microscope magazines and worked as a deputy editor for Marketing Week and its sister title Pitch covering online marketing and social media developments. Joe has also appeared in titles including New Media Age, Guardian Computing, Computing Magazine, The Inquirer and Mobile Magazine.