Bring Your Own Business Change!

Yesterday, on the 26th of June, in Stockholm, as we set sail on a launch with some of our clients, we had a grey and overcast morning, with 3 different weather sites predicting different weather post lunch. Fortunately, by late afternoon the sun was bright and it was definitely summer. We may be used to multiple weather systems within a single day, in some parts of the world. But we are less familiar with the speed of change in our business and technology environment, which is happening as fast and can be as difficult to predict.

This kind of fast change is keenly felt in the area of Mobility, but also in Social, Cloud and Analytics. With more new technologies such as M2M and Wearable computing to follow. At Cognizant, we recognize that there is a huge challenge for us to absorb and use these technologies to help our clients run better and also, “run different”. In order to do this, we have built new organisational structures, processes and funding models. For example we have about 20 internal ventures which are treated as startups within Cognizant funded through a venture capital model, each one focused on a specific solution, product or idea.

I’m sure in your own company, you see this happening – the need for new ideas and models, and the drive towards innovation finds different forms in each organization and it’s certainly present in every business, today. The challenge in most businesses is to make innovation and agility fit within the large, incumbent business culture and processes, and unwieldy legacy IT systems. This is a conversation by itself, for another day, but let’s have a closer look at Mobility and the BYOD phenomenon.

BYOD has swept through many organisations like a buzzword on steroids. But the question that remains for me, and probably for many of you, is “why?” Why should organisations do BYOD? What’s the driver? This is not an argument against BYOD but more of an inquest into the motives. In the early phase, BYOD was seen as a way to reduce costs. Most research now shows that costs are not significantly less, and often, more in a BYOD environment. So if your drive to BYOD is based purely on cost reduction, you need a rethink.

On the other hand BYOD is a great tool for the softer benefits of employee satisfaction, loyalty, performance, and the image of the company in the talent market, especially among the millennial workers. This is a great benefit, but is it enough? This is a question for you to decide.

I believe that the real value of BYOD is slightly higher. This is the point where you stop focusing your management energy on hardware and devices, and start focusing on the information and service design of your environment. This is fundamentally important to the future of your enterprise. Our work on Code Halos highlights the need for this.

BYOD is of course, the start point – it’s often followed (and sometimes bypassed) by BYOA – Bring Your Own App – the use of 3rd party software such as Evernote, Dropbox etc. And very soon, this leads to BYOT – “Bring Your Own Threat”! This is when the employee inadvertently compromises corporate security because of an app which wasn’t securely developed or simply leaves the organization but retains access to sensitive corporate information. 

There are quite a few other questions around BYOD. One of the most interesting among them is: if people are going to bring their own devices and manage their own apps, what is the role of IT? And it’s clear that the IT function needs to consider being less operational and more governance oriented.

The strategies of major vendors such as Apple and Samsung are critical to the BYOD roadmap. Apple has no real enterprise support. If you buy 10,000 iPads, you need to set them up yourself. There is no “corporate profile”. Meanwhile Samsung has taken a big step by integrating their MDM tool Knox at the OS level. This should theoretically allow even a consumer device to be clearly segregated between corporate and personal sandboxes, with the company able to control the corporate space, and the employee able to easily toggle between the two domains.

After all, this is not just about technology. Just like most technology solutions, it is actually a business change. BYOD requires employees and employers to rethink the relationship and the unwritten contract. Maybe even  the written contract. Both the IT organization and the employees need to understand their new responsibilities and liabilities, and worst case scenarios must be discussed. Education is key. A governance model is essential.

At Cognizant we’ve heard a number of our clients complain that they are struggling to control their mobility landscape. Too many apps, too many different tools and technologies, and no control over the roadmap. This is a common problem. Our TruMobi solution in combination within the “Freedom Within a Framework (™)” model is aimed at solving this, and at the same time, enabling a BYOD environment should you decide to go down that route.

After all, you want to focus on your information and delivering better services to your clients, not managing devices. But remember, just doing better is not going to be good enough.  The real question may be: how are you going to “run different”?