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BYOD step 2: stop, look and listen

BYOD is a source of fear for many organizations, not least because it seems to threaten the service desk with a support burden that’s of unknown size, and potentially huge. In the past, the IT support team just needed to master a relatively simple IT infrastructure, with PCs and laptops centrally secured and all software being given the corporate seal of approval. But with myriad devices, apps and cloud services now entering the workplace, how can the team possibly support them all?

Taking the fear out of BYOD

It is vital at this stage not to succumb to the fear, because BYOD is not going to go away. And fortunately, it turns out there’s a simple solution to the “what do we support?” conundrum.

The solution is to accept that users are already bringing their own devices, and to investigate what those devices are being used for. Where the answer is a business application such as, then you may decide to integrate the device and application into your procurement and operations strategy. On the other hand, if a device such as a tablet is just being used for accessing social media, there’s probably no real issue: you may or may not decide to help the individuals concerned connect to your wi-fi network.

Doing this type of research takes the fear out of BYOD. The reason this seems such a big issue is that IT hasn’t a clue what’s out there. Once you take steps to find out, BYOD suddenly starts to look much more manageable.

The truth and nothing but the truth

Service teams are sometimes unsure how to find out what technology is in use, thinking that users may be reticent about disclosing their use of “shadow IT”. It’s true that there’s a chicken-and-egg element to BYOD: how do you know what you need to support until you start supporting it?

However, there’s a variety of ways to get a general picture up front. Whether that’s via users registering devices through a self-service component, surveys or face-to-face conversations you will probably find users are often more forthcoming than you might expect, especially once they know that a BYOD strategy is being adopted.

How BYOD can reduce the support burden

However you do it, establishing what technology the business uses is vital to the BYOD support process. You may be tempted to put off doing this because of concerns that acknowledging additional devices and applications will increase the support burden. In practice, that burden may actually reduce as a result of BYOD, since the kit is usually supported by manufacturers or third parties.

In addition, by listening to users you will probably find that some of the “official” services you provide are unused, and that there are common problems for which reusable fixes and workarounds can easily be created.

Remember, the service desk doesn’t need to support every single technology – just those that users need help with. And once again, the best way to find out which ones these are is to ask.


Gerry Sweeney

Written by Gerry Sweeney

Our CEO, Gerry Sweeney, founded Hornbill in 1995 and launched our very first product Supportworks, a Helpdesk tool used by IT teams. Gerry is an industry beacon for innovation, ensuring the Hornbill platform has the fastest release cycles to deliver the market with the latest in workflow automation, service management and collaboration.