As consumerisation continues to transform IT, organisations are moving quickly to design strategies to allow and embrace bring your own device (BYOD), says Michael Church, enterprise manager, Citrix South Africa.

Empowered to choose the best device to get their work done, including laptops as well as smartphones and tablets, people become more mobile and productive. A more satisfying work experience helps organisations recruit and retain the best employees and by shifting device ownership to employees and contractors, IT eases its burden for device procurement and management.

A sound BYOD strategy which gives people optimal freedom of choice while helping IT adapt to consumerisation and at the same time addressing requirements for security, simplicity and cost reduction can be achieved by following four basic guidelines.

Empower people to choose
Organisations should make it clear who is allowed to use personal devices, whether on an ad hoc basis to supplement a corporate device, as a permanent replacement for a corporate device or anything in between.

However eligibility is defined on a broad level, managers should always have final approval over which team members are appropriate candidates to receive a stipend to replace their corporate device with one of their own choosing. Equally, contractors are generally ideal candidates for BYOD. Once a BYOD initiative has been designed, communication is vital to a successful implementation.

Protect sensitive information
Many CIOs worry that further consumerisation of IT will lead to greatly increased business risks. This is a reasonable concern, and one raised frequently by customers seeking guidance on BYOD.

While the installation of applications directly on non-corporate devices can increase risk, a BYOD program based on enterprise mobility management, Windows app and desktop virtualisation and secure file sharing manages and reduces risk. All business information remains secure within the data centre, residing on the endpoint only when absolutely necessary.

On mobile devices, access to apps and data can be controlled, secured and managed with policies based on device ownership, status or location. IT can enrol and manage any device, detect jail-broken devices and perform a full or selective wipe of a device that is out of compliance, lost, stolen or belongs to a departed employee or contractor.

Application security is ensured through secure application access via app tunnels, blacklisting, white listing and dynamic, context-aware policies.

In the event that a BYOD participant leaves the organisation, BYOD policy is breached or a personally-owned device is lost or stolen, IT should have a mechanism to terminate access instantly to data and apps, including automatic de-provisioning of work-related SaaS accounts and selective wipe of lost devices.

Reduce costs and simplify management
One of the primary benefits of BYOD is the ability to reduce costs by having people pay part or all of the cost of various devices used for work, and getting IT out of the business of procuring and supporting an expanding array of hardware throughout the enterprise. This is especially true in cases where a corporate owned laptop or device will no longer be provided.

A BYOD programme often reduces the total maintenance required for each device because the user is also the owner. As any rental car customer will attest, people treat their own equipment better than they do someone else’s.

A personally-owned device is much less likely to show up at IT with salad dressing in the keyboard. This being said, a BYOD policy should spell out explicitly how various support and maintenance tasks will be addressed and paid for.

In a recent Citrix survey conducted across the BRIC countries into the Workplace of the Future, the vast majority of organisations with a BYOD policy already in place or planned said they compensate employees who use their own devices for work purposes, either in part or in full.

Providing compensation can also give organisations some control over consumerisation, a factor cited by 64 per cent of those surveyed as the main reason for their stipend or financial contribution.

Simplify IT
Enabling employees to access data and apps simply and securely, can be achieved through a unified app store. This could include enterprise mobility management, Windows app and desktop virtualisation, secure file sharing, collaboration and remote support. Through this approach, IT can make enterprise apps, secure file sharing and sync available on any device people bring to work while maintaining security and control.

A successful bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative combines simplicity for people with effective security, control and management for IT. While the temptation can be strong for IT to develop specific policies for every conceivable scenario, the reality is that most considerations can be addressed through the application of a few simple consistent principles.

As a strategy at the nexus of powerful IT trends like consumerisation, workplace flexibility, mobility and cloud computing, BYOD will continue to transform the way people and organisations work. The right strategy, enabled through the delivery of on-demand data, apps and desktops to any device, will ultimately allow businesses to safely and securely transition to a more mobile future.