Since the beginning of the year I have been running a bring your own device (BYOD) experiment, writes Peter Scheffel, chief technology officer at bbd.
No I’m not talking about my own phone or my own iPad.

These devices, while they are capable of doing some work in the corporate environment lack the true abilities a full operating system has to execute productive work on. For my BYOD I purchased a Samsung ATIV Windows 8 tablet towards the end last year. Initially my intention was to use this device purely for personal use.

However, I very quickly realised that by being able to load a full version of Microsoft Outlook on the tablet that it was a totally different experience to an iPad or android tablet from a corporate work perspective. No more having to wonder if the spreadsheet you looking at on the iPad viewer has changed the currencies of quote you are trying to approve. Word documents can be easily opened and updated.

Dropbox files are all on the device without needing any connectivity. And if that is not enough, you can load MS Project and Visio and open and edit those files that really can’t be processed on other tablets.

As a result the obvious thing to do was to start using this device for my day to day work. This is where the first issue of BYOD came in. I tried connecting to the wireless network at the office and was unable to.

One day of a facilities staff member trying to configure my device, which for some strange reason would log in using other credentials, but not my own, finally resolved this issue. BYOD therefore impacted the facilities costs of the company unfavourably.

From there on in all was good. Microsoft continued to improve the touch mail client so that recently it became a real contender as the primary mail interface. The benefits were still all there, even from the touch mail client, it would open up Microsoft Word, Exec, PowerPoint and Project on the legacy desktop and allowed you to edit and save the documents.

This was all good until one fateful day, a month and a half ago when the touch function stopped working on the Tablet. Oh no, no support available from the internal facilities department. It was, after all, not a company machine.

This required me to rapidly dust the cobwebs off the trusty old iPad (that other BOYD) and figure out when I would find time to return my Samsung ATIV to the store so that it could be repaired. Since this is a consumer device the warranty says that it will be repaired in 21 days. This is really where the BYOD approach falls flat.

Consumer devices are made for home use, where when you don’t have them, you can live without them. So with BYOD this is the approach you are forced to adopt. The story got worse after that. After spending a month without the device at the office, I received a phone call that the parts still needed to be ordered and it would take even longer.

Referring to the warranty I found that this was in contravention of the warranty so the device was replaced. Happy days should have been ahead. After installing plenty of software and spending days getting the preview release of Windows 8.1 installed on the machine, it was finally going to be ready to start “work” again.

Usual story, the device could not connect to the Wireless LAN. This time it didn’t take very long for the facilities area to resolve the issue, they are clearly getting on top of BYOD. That evening I spent some more time getting the device ready so that I could be productive with it at work, when the unthinkable happened. The touch stopped working on the brand new device.

After a couple of hours on the Internet I found this to be an issue with these devices. So the following weekend I returned the device to the store. I got a full financial refund, but I will never get the plenty of hours invested in the device back.

So if you want to BYOD make sure that it has a same day or next day warranty in place. Apple and other tablet devices are also consumer devices and hence their warranties will also only repair the device should it break.

The same problem applies to those shiny Macbooks too. If you want to depend on consumer devices for corporate work, best you own a backup device in case of failure. I think that for now I’ll continue using my company machine that is supported by our facilities department and gets priority service from the vendor.