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Why the midmarket is overlooking benefits of BYOD

Tom Kaneshige | April 25, 2013
BYOD has the potential in the midmarket to empower smaller workforces. If mishandled with loose rules and complex legalese, BYOD can lead to increased feelings of isolation. Here's how the midmarket can make BYOD work for them.

Make no mistake: Companies, especially midmarket ones, face a sea change in how they operate when they take up the "Bring Your Own Device" banner. It's not simply letting employees use their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops for work.

"If you want to make the most of BYOD benefits, you're going to have to deal with challenges," says Alison Ruge, senior researcher in Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group. "You're going to have to make some internal changes, so that the weaknesses of BYOD don't overwhelm the positives."

Ruge's team conducted in-depth interviews with knowledge workers at 19 midmarket companies--those with 150 to 1,500 employees--and found that BYOD was taking root there. Why not? BYOD can quickly empower a small workforce. Employee-owned smartphones and tablets can lead to cost savings for resource-strapped companies scrutinizing every line item on the balance sheet.

The problem, though, is that midmarket companies often blindly adopt BYOD while failing to consider the impact it has on the workforce. Here are some of the pitfalls:

  • BYOD can pressure midmarket companies to move to cloud computing--not an easy transition for companies with a small IT staff whose core competency is managing servers and laptops.
  • Midmarket companies often adopt quick-and-easy legal BYOD policies that alienate workers, because they're written solely for the benefit of the corporation.
  • BYOD can lead to a nomadic workforce that feels isolated from colleagues. talked with Ruge about BYOD challenges in the midmarket.

What's the biggest BYOD challenge for midmarket companies?

The midmarket space is very cost sensitive, yet also security conscious. They tend to not want employees to use things like SMS. They don't provide ways for employees to make the most of personal devices. While they appreciate the cost benefits of BYOD, they aren't leveraging the benefits.

For instance, smaller companies tend to go with on-premise solutions. But users are saying that remote access and the ability to capture into the cloud from mobile devices is going to provide tremendous efficiencies. What they really need are cloud-based solutions.

Report: BYOD Planning and Costs: Everything You Need to Know

Going from on-premise to cloud-based isn't a natural migration. Companies have to dismiss their on-premise implementations and start over with cloud solutions. That's why many midmarket companies feel they have to go backward in order to go forward. Midmarket companies have such a small team with a limited set of core competencies that they don't have the bandwidth to do this migration.

But I think they'll eventually have to bite the bullet.

Will BYOD move companies to the cloud?

Yes, simply because the opportunistic, serendipitous and global nature of work means that being in the office and working with on-premise solutions wastes too much time. BYOD polices can really accelerate workflows.


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