How SMBs Can Take Advantage of BYOD

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    BYOD: User Policy Considerations

    Questions and key points companies should consider when establishing BYOD policies.

    I was reading a report on InformationWeek about how Long Island University (LIU) is embarking on a pilot that brings the concept of BYOD to a whole new level. With the iPad given to freshmen for free and sold to others at half price, the educational institution has seen Apple’s tablet reaching about 10,000 students and educators to date.

    Though the implementation entailed what is effectively an enterprise-scale deployment, there are a number of lessons that I feel LIU’s experience offers to SMBs. I list out some pertinent points below.

    The advantage of employee-owned devices

    Rather than attempting to juggle the management of so many BYOD devices, students are advised to visit a nearby Apple Store when they encounter problems with their iPad tablets. Obviously, this only works due to the university’s decision to adopt a tablet monoculture consisting only of iOS tablets.

    On the other hand, I feel this strategy perfectly illustrates the advantage of employee-owned, corporate-enabled devices. And given that employees will bring devices to the office anyway, it makes sense for IT departments to focus on how to integrate them with corporate systems instead of expanding their energies on maintenance tasks that add nothing to the bottom line of the company.

    More Wi-Fi access points

    If there is one common denominator to BYOD devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops, it would be that they all use Wi-Fi for networking. And given that one is unlikely to get much done without Internet access these days, SMBs should expect their existing wireless networks to be hammered by the multiple wireless devices that require access.

    As such, I would advise SMBs looking to embrace BYOD to ensure that their existing wireless infrastructure has more than sufficient bandwidth to deal with the onslaught of Wi-Fi devices and gadgets. And if you are considering upgrading your SMB’s Wi-Fi network, be sure to read “Upgrading Your Wi-Fi Network to 802.11n” first.

    Transition to pure BYOD not feasible

    Another aspect of LIU’s BYOD pilot that caught my attention was the admission by CIO George Baroudi that most faculty members have yet to adopt the iPad as an integral part of their lessons. And despite heavy use of the tablets, it appears that many students are still relying on their mobile phones and laptops, too.

    In view of the revelation that even Internet-savvy teenagers and young adults still find a need to use laptops, it is obvious that SMBs need to recalibrate their expectations that they won’t be ditching their desktops and laptops overnight. This is doubly so if they are currently reliant on legacy applications or PC-based software tools to get work done.

    Thoughts on how small and mid-sized businesses can take advantage of BYOD? Feel free to chip in with your ideas in the comments section below.

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