When we started planning our CYOD pilot, we faced two critical success factors right out of the gate. We needed to ensure participants could pick a device that would excite and inspire them, AND leverage our IT department’s expertise in providing technology that will perform admirably (and reliably) within our environment.
What Softchoice chose for CYOD
“We chose HP, Lenovo and Dell for our CYOD pilot — offering a subset of three to five devices per vendor,” said Ron Haslett, Senior Manager of eCommerce at Softchoice and a participant in the CYOD pilot program. “These vendors have a wide range of offerings with Windows 8, as well as global availability and warranty structures.”
Choosing the right line-up of devices for our CYOD pilot required some input from our own internal experts. Here are 4 considerations we would recommend you have in mind when building out the list of devices included in a CYOD program.
1. Form factors
First, consider which form factors you’re going to offer — laptop, tablet or ultrabook, said Iain Miller, Softchoice’s vendor sales specialist for Dell.
“A laptop is more of a desktop replacement, but still provides portability,” he said. “Laptops are tried, tested and true. They offer plenty of processing power and large, fast hard drives, but tend to lack the connectivity options of a tablet.”
A tablet is ultra-mobile, said Miller, and with the new processors available it’s possible to use a tablet as a desktop replacement. Today’s tablets also offer a long battery life, providing access anywhere, anytime. But you might not want to spend your whole day typing on a tablet, he added.
“Ultrabooks are that ‘in-between,’ offering some of the capabilities of a laptop, with many qualities of a tablet,” said Miller. “And several new ultra-books are touch-enabled with Windows 8.” It’s really the best of both worlds.
2. Take a look around your office
What you choose will also depend on your current IT infrastructure, wi-fi capabilities and wireless plans, as well as security standards, said Thomas Fong, Softchoice’s vendor sales specialist for Lenovo. Are you a Microsoft shop? Do you have the capability to support iOS and Android? If not, will “alien” devices meet your organization’s security requirements?
“When selecting CYOD models, also consider any additional investments that might be required,” said Hasslet. He chose a tablet that required him to spend extra money on a docking station and keyboard — something he didn’t initially consider. “That could significantly impact adoption rates of your CYOD program.”
3. It’s better when everything just gets along
There’s a benefit to using technologies that are designed to work together, said Karly Pierce, Softchoice’s vendor sales specialist for HP. Using “designed for Windows products” means it’s easier to access and manage the influx of Microsoft technologies that typically exist within an organization. And that tends to lead to greater employee productivity, she said.
It can also help to cut down on cost and complexity. A licence for Office 365, for example, covers five different devices. That means you can save on licensing, said Pierce, as well as costs related to connectivity and management of multiple devices.
“Like many organizations, we do have some Mac users in our environment,” said Tyler Astle, IT help desk manager with Softchoice and a participant in the CYOD program. “But since our business apps are Windows-based, there’s an extra layer of virtualization required to make the Mac OS work within a Windows world.”
If you’re offering iOS or Android as part of your CYOD program, he added, make sure your back-end infrastructure and security protocols are set up for that.
“Since we’re a Windows shop, we chose Windows-based devices that can be managed through Microsoft SCCM,” said Astle. “This provides us with full asset management, allowing us to push out patches and security to CYOD devices. And we don’t require any extra hands on deck to manage the integration.”
4. CYO devices need to satisfy the end user
CYOD is ultimately about offering employees choice while maintaining a level of control over the IT environment — and ensuring the device they choose is suitable for their job.
Depending on your organization’s policies, the devices can be partitioned so employees can use the device for work and for personal use.
“We think this could help employees feel more empowered and connected to the device they use for work everyday — and therefore won’t feel the need to bring in other devices that may jeopardize the current IT environment from a security perspective,” says Haslett.
While Apple is often considered the platform of choice for new talent, the reality is not every organization’s IT department is ready to introduce Apple technologies into their environment.
“So, when selecting devices, consider the different manufacturers and form factors — but don’t forget to consider the benefits of compatibility and what works best in your IT environment.”
If you have any questions about CYO, feel free to comment below. You can also discover what our CYO participants are talking about on Twitter by following the hashtag #SCYO