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In part one of this blog series I proposed a mental model for why employees might be motivated to want to use their own mobile technology at work. A mental model is a diagram that collects lots of different motivations together that people might have around a topic. In this second part I’m going to flip this around and think about why digital workplace managers (people responsible for any of this in IT or “the business”) might be trying to implement BYOD programmes – in spite of the costs, the security risks, the moving target of consumer technology and the potential fury of other parts of the organization.

Stimulus-response

When at work we are all subject to many drivers and forces that push us hither and yon, and digital workplace managers are certainly no exception. In the clean and glossy world of how-work-should-work there is this idea that strategic and technological imperatives descend and are dealt with professional and sober judgment. In reality work is a messy place of conflicting interests and limited resources. So what are the various motivations that are pushing digital workplace managers towards BYOD.

Here’s a potential mental model of those motivations – again this is a speculative starting point based on some asking around, rather than solid research:

There are of course valid requirements for BYOD that have been delivered from on-high as part of an enterprise strategy, or as part of a customer requirement, or this may be driven from positive motivations to open up what is seen as the closed platform of internal IT services, promote a wide capability of productivity or mobility.

Some managers might be using BYOD to bump up against budgetary issues either trying to save money across the whole enterprise or, more likely, inadvertently shifting expenditure onto other areas as their budget has been either reduced, or they are unable to justify the investment to make their workforce mobile in the way they envisage. Managers may have motivations for BYOD to route around organisational restrictions, such as restrictive security, policy, legacy or procurement.

Then there are the other motivations which are caused by people rather than official parts of the organization. The pragmatic stand of “If we don’t provide BYOD, they’ll do it anyway” is the dread of the mass of the employee base not being able to follow some simple rules, in particular the geeks and early adopters. There is also the small matter of senior management being more-equal-than-others and putting pressure on digital workplace managers to provide access using their chosen devices. Most people also want to be nice, and not be the IT ogre that only says no. Lastly people always bring themselves to work, and are always likely to bring their personal vision of how things should be, do things because everyone else is doing it, or favour BYOD to appear trendy and up-to-the-minute.

Implications

Again, so what? Now we have a better model of the pressures that digital workplace managers are under when considering decisions around BYOD programmes, and we can marry up the motivations of the users from the mental model in part one.

Seeking a solution and seeking to help the organisation

These motivations are people doing their jobs. Similar to users who are just seeking solutions this is how organisations are supposed to work!

Seeking to navigate the organisation

These are motivations concerned with budget and the administrative real-politick of the organization. Budgets are either smaller than they used to be, or even if they have been maintained they are inadequate when faced with the dawning of a new mobile age. Managers however still want to deliver and BYOD seems like a way to do it without requiring a multi-million dollar business case. Digital workplaces are never greenfield sites and a restrictive IT legacy or security policies may motivate managers towards BYOD towards a means of delivering mobility. No chance of implementing enterprise social on a server on your network? No problem! Throw Yammer and BYOD at it!

Seeking appeasement and seeking their own vision

Appeasing the loudest detractors could also be a big motivation. The geeks may not be foiled, and management won’t take no for answer. How much of BYOD is appeasement I can’t tell, but I wonder how sustainable it may be in the long term? Surely if management needs tablets, the classic route is to ask for and then pay for them with the knock-on effect that has on the enterprise architecture? Are managers being motivated by personal reasons? Implementing BYOD so you yourself can use a beloved iPhone instead of a company Blackberry is the same motivations that drive the employees that are seeking cool on the conveyor belt of consumer tech.

So before you, as a manager of the digital workplace in your organization, say let them eat BYOD, consider your own motivations. Are there better reasons? Maybe this is the end of IT and telecoms as we know it, but you’d better be sure before the rules are changed. Personally I find it disconcerting that organizations, in this time of abject revolution, might hang their hopes of enterprise mobility on the whims of their employees. BYOD is a useful tool to sate the geeks and as a test bed for novel technology, but if you want a truly mobile workforce with the information and tools they need, wherever they are: Pay up.

About the author

Chris TubbChris Tubb is an independent intranet and digital workplace consultant, who lives in Brighton.

For the Digital Workplace Group (DWG) he is a strategy consultant, lead benchmarker and a member of the research team.

Working with intranets since 1996, in and out of IT and Communications departments, Chris was formerly responsible for intranet strategy and architecture at Orange SA and France Telecom Group.

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