Controlling the Mobile Transition

Carl Weinschenk

BYOD (bring your own device) is a well-established trend. The next steps are to redesign business processes as mobility takes root and implement a “buy the right device” program. Dan O’Hara, the vice president of mobility for Avanade, told IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that both trends lead to increased sales, higher employee morale and other benefits.

On Jan. 29, Avanade released a survey of almost 600 C-level executives in 19 countries on the use of consumer devices in the workplace.

Weinschenk: What did the study look at?

O’Hara: Everyone is comfortable with BYOD [for using personal] smartphones or checking email. What we looked at in this survey is how businesses are adopting based on their business processes. We wanted to see if businesses deploying those devices are changing business processes.

We asked some questions that were BYOD-specific in terms of general usage and asked business process questions not specific to corporate-liable or BYOD devices. They focused on how they are using consumer devices for CRM, procurement [and other things].

Weinschenk: What did you find most interesting?

O’Hara: The most relevant statistic I found is that over half of employees are using smartphones for basic email reading, online documents, calendar functions, that sort of thing. A third are using tablets for that functionality. A third of employees are using them for more advanced functions such as CRM and project management. More employees are using tablets for advanced business functions than smartphones.

The other big thing we asked broadly about are business processes. We found that 71 percent of respondents changed at least one business process due to new technology and 20 percent changed four or more due to the new technologies.

Weinschenk: How are companies changing their business processes because of mobility?

O’Hara: I think some of those companies see mobility as a platform and want to put multiple functions on it. First they decide to do procurement and policies, for instance, and then build on that. They view mobility as a platform to add processes to. Others do a lot of little projects in different business areas and it starts to grow and eventually becomes a big change. Some companies do one project than a second and third.

Weinschenk: How is it changing? Is one approach predominating?

O’Hara: I think we seen over past couple of years more pockets of adding processes [in a piecemeal fashion]. Now it is more of seeing it as an overall platform. Now there is more of a strategic roadmap view as they go forward.

Weinschenk: What other changes are you seeing?

O’Hara: In the next three to five years I’d say we will see more IT involvement over the number of devices and control of them. We’ve seen a huge increase in HR support in these deployments because there is a huge human element in [the “personally liable” approach]. We see a bigger teaming of HR for the human aspect and IT for the technology.

One of the other concepts we are seeing, “buy the right device,” as companies look at changing business processes rather than BYOD. We are seeing that in a lot of field service. They like consumer technology but need ruggedized or waterproof devices. As they change business processes they specify the device that will be used more than in BYOD scenarios. It is moving BYOD to buy the right device as uses change and you are not just enabling knowledge workers with smart devices.

Clearly we are also seeing that in retail where for instance there are people working different shifts. They are, for instance, using the device for four hours and going on their lunch break and someone else picks it up. People are using mobile devices that are not their own.

As they implement more business processes they are looking at the device ownership question. If employees are just checking email … then BYOD is effective. If you are starting to change how you are selling, servicing customers, interacting with patients and other things, the best move is to buy the right device.

If you think about an airline, for instance, only about 10 to 20 percent of employees are knowledge workers in the office. The rest are on planes or fixing planes or doing similar things. A small percentage use BYOD. A larger percentage use devices that are very task- and role-oriented. Flight attendants and pilots and maintenance each have different devices. The pilots have charts and need bigger screens; techs need heavy-duty waterproof devices because they are out in the field fixing planes.

Weinschenk: What has the overall impact of progressively using technology been?

O’Hara: Companies that were looking at sales and services found that 73 percent were more likely to have increased sales and customer acquisition. Of those using properly adjusted business processes, 37 percent reported improved employee morale.

Anecdotally, the more companies are using mobile devices, the more they are factoring in device upgrades. Previously they were doing upgrades every two or three years. Now, in a mobile world, they are doing it every 12 months. In some cases they are doing six-month refreshes. It is much faster than in the past. Also, there is more investing in employee training to do things like drive home the dangers of losing devices and not reporting it. There is additional employee training, especially in topics related to security and policy.

Weinschenk: How are the high-level executives responding?

O’Hara: The CIO function is very interested in security. It is their top issue. Over 50 percent of responding companies had security breaches. For business people the top issue is the potential benefits. In the C-suite, 56 percent see capitalizing on potential benefits as the top issue. In IT, 55 percent see minimizing potential risk as tops.

Weinschenk: What would you say the major takeaway is to redesigning business processes?

O’Hara: Some companies just put a mobile front-end on what they’ve already got, but the biggest change comes from redesigning business processes rather than putting on a mobile front end on existing screen or workflow.

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