IT Standardization in the Age of BYOD
It may have been inconceivable five years ago, but it hasn’t taken long for today’s workers to get used to bringing their own technology to work. Driven by claims that they can work more productively on their own devices, workers now take bring your own device (BYOD) policies for granted, even though they have created new management and security headaches for systems administrators.
Businesses have long standardized their equipment to make it easier to swap in new PCs when old ones break or need to be upgraded. Yet the lack of control over laptops and other BYOD devices is challenging this practice, presenting issues for IT administrators and the integrity of business data.
Administrators often have no way of finding out, or improving, a device’s security profile. This leaves businesses exposed when a new software vulnerability is discovered since administrators have no way to patch or upgrade the software on users’ personal devices; studies regularly attribute most security breaches to unpatched vulnerabilities that had been fixed years ago but were never applied to users’ devices.
Standardize Your Apps
These problems create a compelling case for standardization—if not of the devices themselves, then of the applications that they are running. And it’s not just about making system administrators’ lives easier: by mandating a consistent set of applications, for example, it’s easier to help employees communicate smoothly and effectively regardless of where they go or what device they’re using.
Standardizing productivity applications ensures that documents can be easily shared and used, minimizing the need for costly and time-consuming manual entry of information. It also reduces the need for staff training, making it easier to move employees between locations. And it reduces the number of applications needing support: with the average business already running well over 100 different applications, any reduction in complexity can only be a good thing.
Consolidating your applications also offers considerable cost benefits: you’re likely to be able to spend less on licensing costs than you would buying multiple applications, for example, and because you’re buying an application for a large number of users you will have better bargaining power with your suppliers.
Consider Cloud Solutions
It’s worth noting the value of emerging cloud-based productivity tools in meeting these goals. Although some users require sophisticated productivity tools for certain jobs, in most environments users could make do just as well with a cloud-based tool such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps.
These store data in a central place where all users can easily access, view, and change information from any device, at any time; do cloud right, and application incompatibility becomes a thing of the past.
The BYOD cat may already be out of the bag, but by standardizing your IT applications and infrastructure, you can reduce costs and improve flexibility. By identifying the best opportunities for standardization, you’ll be able to reduce technology-management overheads and ensure that your users are more productive, more often.