Bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, is a movement blurring the line between work and personal life. After all, BYOD is all about employees using personal smartphones and tablets for business purposes. So does this mean people check Facebook when they should be working or read job-related emails on weekends?
In other words, does BYOD help or hinder worker productivity?
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The easy answer, of course, is both. But CIOs need to tip the scales toward worker performance gains if they're going to endorse a BYOD program, especially since many poorly managed mobile BYOD programs end up costing more than company-owned device programs.
Other CIOs may not have much of a choice with BYOD programs that act as a kind of rallying cry for people to demand certain tech gadgets at work. "The pressure on IT is intense," says Aberdeen Group analyst Andrew Borg. "The implied threat is, 'Give me what I know I can have, or I'll self-provision.'"
The silver lining, though, is that BYOD really does lead to net worker productivity gains.
Consider this likely scenario: A worker wants to turn in her corporate-owned BlackBerry in favor of her personal iPhone. She will enthusiastically personalize her iPhone with productivity tools and apps that deliver up-to-the-minute data, as opposed to the less-customizable BlackBerry.
In turn, the personal iPhone will accelerate her responsiveness.
"They are also more likely to have their device with them at all times, not only during work hours, which means they are more accessible and in-touch," Borg says.
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BYOD also helps in recruitment and getting new hires up to speed quickly. Mobile devices have become very personal, like a wallet or purse, and so potential employees will want to work at a company that lets them use their personal devices. Since they are already familiar with, say, the iPhone, they don't need to learn the acrobatics and shortcuts of the BlackBerry.
"The way to give the greatest choice is through a BYOD program," Brandon Hampton, a founding director of Mobi Wireless Management, a software and services provider advising Fortune 100 companies on wireless strategies, told CIO.com. "This can be good for industries that are very competitive for the brightest employees, such as law firms. It's an extra perk."
CIOs prefer quantitative metrics to qualitative hearsay, yet clear-cut BYOD performance gains are somewhat elusive.