Managing Devices for Agile Working

  2 Jun 2014   JohnEary

The industry is full of jargon for describing the various methods of Agile and Flexible Working. The common acronyms that we come across on a regular basis are:

  • GWYG
  • CYOD
  • BYOD

Whilst preparing a recent presentation for the Institute of Directors (IoD) I had a slide on my iPad which had the three acronyms above on it. My 15 year old son, who glanced across at my screen, took a few seconds to consider what he saw before asking, “Why are you writing a presentation in Welsh?”.

For many people, these acronyms may as well be written in a foreign language but they are quickly becoming the de facto standard for describing the key methods of device adoption through both the public and private sectors.


Get What You’re Given – This is the traditional model of device provision to staff members within an organisation. Historically ,this was the ubiquitous BlackBerry that pervaded the echelons of middle management but times have changed and you are more likely to find an iPhone or an Android device provided to staff through all levels of the organisation. This model has zero tolerance and, as the name suggests, is not open to any form of choice – it just is what it is.


Choose Your Own Device – A more relaxed approach, becoming a little more commonplace than the draconian GWYG model, which allows a degree of choice for the individual, but still has to fall in line with the corporate policy. In some organisations this is just a choice of which Android handset (Samsung, HTC etc), but in others you see the full breadth of options from iPhone and Android through to that much rarer beast – the Windows phone.


Bring Your Own Device (or Disaster!) – A liberal approach, too liberal some might say, which has gained considerable traction in recent times and basically allows the individual the ability to use their own device to access corporate systems, data, email and a whole raft of other services if the access method allows. This is the ‘New Kid on the Block’ in many sectors and a method of adopting this model in a secure and controllable manner has to be achieved.

Market Statistics

Recent market studies and statistics, from Gartner and the like, tell us the following:

  • 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018 ◦ Based on our experience this is a pessimistic number and we believe the more accurate number is likely to be nearer 90%.
  • 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016.
  • 40% of US IT Managers “Strongly Agree that BYOD Improves Worker Productivity”.
  • 53% of users user their own personal devices for work ◦ Again, we believe this to be significantly higher in reality as the majority of users we come across, who use a smartphone of some description, utilise it at some point for work.
  • Security is the biggest BYOD objection worldwide
  • 51% connect to unsecured wireless networks with their smartphone ◦ We all do it – jump on any free Starbucks, airport lounge or hotel wireless hotspot without thinking twice.

The Challenges of BYOD

There are a multitude of perceived and real challenges for BYOD adoption which do need to be considered and overcome in order to harness the benefits.

Employee Owned Device

You are reliant on the employee to ensure they do not lose it – and therefore become uncontactable or unable to see their email – or worse still, the device contains business data that is commercially sensitive or has data protection risks.

Driven by Consumer Technology

Typically, with the legacy GWYG approach to mobile devices, the organisation would replace the device every two to three years (and sometimes not for a much longer period) in line with other IT equipment such as desktop PCs or laptops. This has changed as consumers regularly change their mobile devices annually, or at the very most every two years, in line with either their service provider’s tariff or because a shiny new model has been released.

Lure of the iPhone/iPad

IMG_0459.jpgNot the only devices on the planet, but they have made an astronomical impact on consumers and the lure of having the latest and greatest at any given time. It is remarkable to see that the iPad has only been on sale worldwide for just over four years and, in that time, Apple has sold over 200 million devices – with almost 75 million of those in 2013 alone.

Pace significantly outstripping deployment

The pace of change and of new device release means that the capability, from either a resource or financial perspective, of almost all organisations means that they will never be able to deploy devices to meet user demand in the way that users can procure and replace their own devices.

Employee expectations rapidly evolving

This is not a new phenomenon as for quite a number of years many people have had a faster PC at home, or one with a later version of Windows, than the machine they spend eight hours a day sat in front of in the office. However, employee expectations have increased exponentially and they really do want the flexibility and usability that the latest smartphone or tablet can offer.

Traditional ‘desk based’ working is becoming unsustainable

For many, fixed desk devices are not the most effective way of working. Employees travel more, spend more time out of the office with customers and clients, and require access to data at a moment’s notice.

Staff already working ‘under the radar’

As the Gartner figures show, use of personal devices for work purposes is already happening – not for underhand reasons, but to become more effective and save time. It could be just forwarding an email to their gMail/Outlook email account so that they can continue to work on it in their own time at home or it could be saving documents to their own ‘Dropbox’ cloud storage, which brings its own security risks.

The Benefits 

For many organisations the benefits of BYOD adoption are significant and it is not unheard of from our experience with clients that it can actually revolutionise an organisation, with tangible productivity gains.

IMG_0458.jpgWork/Life Integration for employees can be a fantastic benefit, allowing them to work in a more flexible manner which benefits them, and their families, and also the organisation.

For many years, almost everyone who has a GWYG device also had their own personal device too. Having a single device is very attractive to most employees, especially if it is their own device, which they have chosen and are paying for out of their own hard-earned money.

Cost savings to the organisation can also be significant as they do not have to procure new devices, new contracts and the type and level of support required from IT Support to the individual can, in most cases, decrease.

The Concerns

Clearly there are also some areas that need to be carefully managed and considered before full-scale organisational adoption. Whilst it can be a significant benefit, BYOD is not practical for all organisations.

The shift of Work/Life balance, whilst being a fantastic benefit for most, can be a challenge for some – resulting in undue stress, expectation that they are ‘always on’ as their mobile device continues to ‘ping’ the arrival of new emails all evening and all weekend.

Support for the BYOD device is a new method for most IT departments and considerations need to be given as to how they are managed remotely, if there are issues, how and if they are monitored, in the same way that their previous GWYG device was.

As we said earlier, security is the biggest BYOD objection worldwide, coupled with the complexities of personal and business data on the same device and how this will be separate and stored and transferred securely, whilst keeping in line with Data Protection rules and regulations.

The consumer marketplace is rapidly changing, with most major manufacturers releasing multiple new models of device every single year – a challenge for any organisation.

Strategic Considerations

As an organisation, the key questions when planning the adoption of BYOD should be:

  • What devices and operating systems will you support?
  • How do you define the boundaries between personal and business usage and liability?
  • Application management and governance – what applications can and cannot be accessed and how?
  • Who in your business is responsible for defining and policing your mobile policy?
  • Do you have the tools and resources to support a mixed-ownership estate?

There are a plethora of management and technical tools available to help address some of these key questions, namely:

  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) ◦ a centralised management tool which can provide functionality such as locking down the device, wiping the device if it lost or stolen.
  • VPN/Citrix client ◦ typically an application loaded onto the device which provides secure, authenticated access to organisational resources and applications,
  • •Encryption -to complement and support the technical aspect of BYOD management and control, a robust security policy and an accompanying acceptable use policy needs to be in place within the organisation.

Over To You….

The bottom line is, every organisation needs a strategy and an approach as to how they will manage BYOD in their organisation.

If BYOD is not right for you, then the hybrid CYOD model may be more suited.

Either way, you need a clear and documented strategy.

This isn’t an if, but a when…….

john-eary-100x100-01.jpgWritten by John Eary, Director of JEC Professional Services Ltd. I have a strong track record in advising organisations on new ways of working and exploiting IT effectively. My blog seeks to provoke thinking on the opportunities and challenges of new ways of working presented by technology.

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