I have been in my new job for a little over 2 weeks now. My new job focus is about understanding business client device usage as a tool to accomplish work in the enterprise and what the expectations, options and requirements are on IT to deliver solutions and services to employees
While I thought my first blogs would be about device usage and new devices for business (Ultrabooks, tablets, phones), I was surprised to be really motivated and excited to write about Enterprise IT Standards and their impact on Productivity. In the past 2 weeks, I have read about and experienced first hand the challenges of a BYO-PC environment in the enterprise and how this trend can negatively affect business productivity.
If you have followed my blogs and tweets you will quickly learn that I am a BYO fan when it comes to allowing employee flexibility to compliment the employee's primary compute device - giving them the right amount of access to corporate data and services from personal devices. I saw the power of this when I worked in Intel IT. This additional access has shown that it adds productivity to the business and enables flexible great place to work options for employees - win / win. IT@Intel recently highlighted 2.75 millionhours of productivity gains in 1H'12 due to BYOD
However, when it comes to BYO for your primary work device, then things can start to hit a slippery slope and fast. The other day, a colleague of mine was presenting to a group of us present in a conference room and with many remote workers over an online collaboration software. As she connected her BYO-Mac, the online collaboration and projector would not work. After several minutes trying to customize her system and decide if there was a problem with the projector, the collaboration software, etc .. we decided to have her send her presentation to someone else who presented her material over their corporate supplied business PC. While my colleague loves her Mac experience and I really like that we support her personal flexibility, I was frustrated that we wasted my time as well as 10 other employees time troubleshooting this during valuable team face to face collaboration time.
My second story comes from Forbes on an article that shared a similar experience from Roger Kay when he was presenting to another company. As you read the article you will see the parallels to my experience above - however in this case the important highlight is the benefit and importance of cross company interoperability. Roger describes his experience during a presentation he gave when switching presenter PC's in the room. "In about four seconds, Windows finds the projector, loads the driver, and throws the image of my screen onto the back wall. I learned later that Macs sometimes need some fussing in situations like this, and he (Chairman of the Board) was sure that Windows would have similar issues. Turns out not. One thing Microsoft does, at great expense, is play nice with others"
The business benefits of enterprise IT standards and built for business technology in today's fast pace business environment is more important than ever. We are not talking about KTBR and cost efficiency as the primary benefit of Enterprise Standards, but Keeping the Business Growing, Innovating and Competitive.
The flexibility that BYOD provides employees is great when it adds productivity .. however, when BYOD begins to hinder collaboration by introducing a more heterogeneous work environment that undermines standards for cross enterprise and inter-enterprise productivity, I worry we may be going too far.