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Implement BYOD – That’s The Way to Innovate

In my spare time, I am an adjunct faculty member for an online university and teach a class each semester.  This week the topic was IT innovation and one of my learners was using as their example, the phenomenon of mobile and ‘Bring Your Own Device’. The learner supported their argument that BYOD was a key IT innovation with a blog post on CIO Insight that stated that BYOD culture inspires employee innovation. My response was that while BYOD may be a key ingredient, but by itself, BYOD will not accelerate innovation. Mobile devices, whether they are personally owned devices used in the workplace or corporate-provided, are not inherently ‘innovative’.  They are business tools, similar to any other business device sitting on your desktop.
Innovation, in this case, is driven by how the mobile device is used.  I am not talking about being able to read and respond to your business email while watching your son at a swim meet (though, what else do you do when your son swims the 500 Free?).  Innovation is the hard work by both business and IT, sitting down and figuring out how to take advantage of the significant technological advances offered by mobile.  Quite often, firms don’t even need to sit down and come up with ideas.  Employees are coming to their managers and IT coworkers with impressive ways on how access to real-time enterprise data can make a significant impact in their lines of business.  Our industry loves statistics and one I thought significant was published by Webalo that stated that “98% of corporate users said productivity would improve if they had mobile enterprise access”. Obviously, there is no concrete ROI behind such a statement but if you think about it, you can come up with a number of positives in terms of sales, client satisfaction, and business decision-making that would come from efficiencies in extending enterprise data to mobile.
As I pointed out to the learner, the only thing our industry loves more than statistics is silver bullets and in this case, the idea that a BYOD initiative will inherently spur innovation within a firm.  Rather, the ability to have access to enterprise data whenever and wherever is the key to innovation.

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Perry Hoekstra

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