BYOD & ERP: Working Together Or At Cross-Purposes?

Bring your own device (BYOD) to work has been gaining a lot of traction in all types of business and according to a recent survey by the Aberdeen group has seen a CAGR of 70% since 2008. All sizes of business first saw BYOD as a great way of saving money, having staff provide their own smart phones and tablets for the companies benefit. The reality has not quite matched that initial impression.

The plethora of different devices put additional load on the company wireless network and double or even triple the number of IPs needed to support all those devices. While staff may own the devices they have been very quick to start claiming expenses for calls and data usage paid for at their own tariff.

While tech support staff may wash their hands of these non-standard devices, they will still be asked to solve connectivity issues over the wireless network and more support is provided by colleagues who have similar devices.

All is not lost though, according to an Aberdeen group report that stated how extra costs associated with BYOD are relatively small and the benefits can be significant. What many of the larger organizations are doing though is changing the game a little. Instead of rolling out the corporate Blackberry, they are giving staff a choice of iPhones, Android devices and even Symbian is making it to some pick lists. Tablets in use are apparently 99% iPads.

It may seem odd to be giving staff the same device they already have in their pocket but having the company foot the bill. But there are some very good reasons for doing this:

  • As the company will be contracting a number of devices they can usually negotiate better data and call rates
  • Paying directly saves the cost of processing expense claims
  • With company-owned devices, staff cannot argue about security apps, encryption and enterprise mobile management
  • Data policies can be implemented and enforced to control the data that is copied to and stored on mobile devices
  • Lost devices can be remote locked and wiped to secure company data without overly upsetting members of staff
  • Email can be managed, secured, and controlled in accordance with company policy.

Where does ERP fit into all this? Well, it focuses us onto the real issue with BYOD.

Data is what makes any company unique among its peers and competitors. Controlling that data and keeping it safe is of paramount importance to any organization and it is much easier to control data that is on a company-owned device. Allowing company data onto a device owned by an employee is sowing the seeds for some serious legal tangles.

When an employee leaves the company and denies you access to their own personal device, refuses to prove that it no longer has copies of company confidential information, what legal rights does the company have? Not many would be my guess!

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Richard Minney is co-founder of iBE.net, a developer of business management software for SMEs. He has nearly 20 years of ERP experience as a developer, consultant and project manager. Previously he was executive VP for Product Innovation at HCL-Axon, responsible for the company's successful ERP add-on solutions business. Before that, he was co-founder of Feanix, a $20m SAP systems integrator with clients like Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney. He spent nine years at U.K.-based Druid Group plc, building SAP’s first industry add-on solution for aerospace and defense. He began his career at Ford and Rolls-Royce. He has a Masters in computer integrated manufacturing from Cranfield University, and a MA in engineering from Cambridge University.