Time to bust the BYOD productivity myth

Just how much additional productivity does, “bring your own device” strategy deliver to an organisation?

There is so much hype around the question that it is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. The Mobile Workforce Report from enterprise Wi-Fi access firm iPass, published in August, for example, suggested that many employees were working an extra 20 hours a week as a result of BYOD.

The report claimed that a third of mobile enterprise workers never fully disconnect from technology during their personal time.

I just don’t believe it. It is one thing to fire off a quick work email or log on to an enterprise system and make a couple of adjustments four hours after you’ve left the office. It is quite another to say the hours in between were all productive labour, to say nothing of whether this could be attributed to a BYOD strategy or simply a mobile working strategy.

A more realistic, believable and still extremely impressive estimate can be found buried in the Intel IT Performance Report, 2012 Mid-Year update, which itself is buried on the Intel corporate website.

It is part of Intel CIO Kim Stevenson’s efforts to communicate the work of her 6,000 strong team to the wider business, and the section on mobile working is particularly fascinating. The strategy is not simply about creating a BYOD environment. It is not simply about pushing out existing enterprise apps in a smartphone or tablet friendly way. It is about delivering the apps and infrastructure that allows people to do their jobs effectively.

Stevenson highlighted Intel’s mobile app programme, a framework that has seen the development of customer relationship management, social media, and travel tool apps, such as location-based and context-aware apps that help employees navigate Intel sites. And there is the promise of another 14 enterprise apps in production, with more in the planning phase.

That doesn’t sound spectacular when compared to some of the hype round BYOD, but it is the sort of operation that many other IT organisations could aspire to and realistically deliver. What is more, it has delivered quantifiable results – not 20 hours a week extra productivity, and not for the whole workforce, but certainly a major boost.

The mobile apps strategy, the development of a separate Wi-Fi network for personal devices separate from the enterprise network and the promotion of a select your own device – with some Ultrabooks being recommended above others – has led to an estimated average of 57 minutes per day productive time, according to Intel.

That is not for every worker. Some 19,000 out of Intel’s 100,000 employees worldwide were involved in the BYOD programme at mid-year but they delivered a total productivity gain of more than 2.5 million hours by the half-way point of 2012.

It is probably safe to assume that the early adopters of BYOD will deliver the most additional productivity, but whatever caveats you add, and whatever additional headaches BYOD causes the IT department; it is a strategy that can ease a lot of pain for the rest of the organisation.

Yes, there is hype, but BYOD does deliver.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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