The Pros and Cons of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) for Your Mobile Field Workforce – Field Force Friday

Is BYOD right for your organization? Explore the risks and benefits of this hot-topic for mobile field workers involved in service, repair, renovation and safety inspection work.

There is no ignoring the buzz about BYOD (bring-your-own-device), especially in an inherently mobile industry like field service. MarketsandMarkets predicted the BYOD and enterprise mobility market will rise to $73.30 billion by 2021, compared to $35.10 billion in 2016. Similarly, another MarketsandMarkets report identified North America as the biggest BYOD adapter. With BYOD’s spike in popularity, we can’t help but wonder: what’s all the hype about?

BYOD policies let employees use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops through Cloud application in the workplace, instead of company provided devices. These devices typically store  training videos, photos, inventory, mobile schedules and more for easy data access. CBS MoneyWatch recently reported 67% of workers already use their own devices.

Furthermore, Gartner Inc. predicts 50% of companies will require employees to bring their own devices by 2017.

BYOD is becoming a workplace norm in the field service industry. But there are many factors to consider before letting employees bring their own devices.

Watch this video to explore the pros and cons of BYOD in field service.

Looking for more information to guide your decision? Read on for the benefits and risks of this much-hyped solution.

Benefits of Bring Your Own Device Policy

  • Reduces Technology Costs for Field Service Companies: BYOD programs shift costs to the individual user, saving companies money on buying devices up front with monthly voice and data service fees. Even subsidizing employees cell and data plans costs much less than buying devices paid in full with a company-wide mobile initiative.
  • Improves User Enhancement: The Millennial generation is booming, making today’s workforce tech-savvy. With BYOD, technicians use devices they already understand, requiring less training. Field workers will know how to take full advantage of device features, which boosts worker productivity and maximizes business revenue.
  • Retains Happy Employees: Retaining strong field technicians is extremely important, but also hard. When techs use the devices they already know and love, they will be happier working for your company and also more productive. Studies have shown employees enjoy using their personal devices over the bulk issued devices by IT departments, despite being responsible for their own costs and cell coverage.
  • Takes Advantage of Newer Devices and Cutting Edge Features: Individual users usually upgrade to the latest hardware, gaining access to faster, sleeker, and more capable devices. Newer devices with features like Siri and 4G LTE are deal for field work tasks, and upgrade in speed, storage, photo, video, billing documentation and more. In fact, Field Service News reports field managers use mobile handhelds for vehicle tracking and scheduling, mitigating vehicle accidents and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Provides Easy Information Access. Fast turnaround time means happy customers and more revenue. Field service technicians need information available at any time and place to do their job well. Old devices retrieve information slowly, leading to slower turnaround time. Implementing up to date, flexible content platforms gives employees on-demand data access, which increases productivity.

Why Bring Your Own Device can be Risky

BYOD policies require strategic planning to be successful. Below are just some common challenges companies must overcome to let employees bring their own devices.

  • Security Concerns: Security has been one of the hugest concerns surrounding bring your own device policies. IT professionals have a harder time monitoring and addressing viruses, hacking, and other cybersecurity issues with personal devices. However, some employees may not approve of their bosses having access to their personal information. Others may consider it inconvenient when they can’t download company information to personal devices. Additionally, UC Today reported employees are more productive when trusted by their employers to use their own devices. Here are just some ways to address BYOD security concerns: Here are just some ways to address BYOD security concerns:
      • Register employee devices with the company for monitoring purposes
      • Implement password protection, antivirus and back-up software
      • Prevent use in public WiFi networks
    • Company information should not be downloaded to home computers
    • Wipe devices clean when employees quit or are terminated
  • No uniform end-user support:  It’s important to seek out support options for each of the major platforms. This way, you can refer your employees if and when problems come up.
  • On-premises software difficulties: If you purchase an application without a support contract, you may have to hire IT training to support software in house, in addition to other expensive costs. An easy solution is to purchase software as a service (SaaS) and let a provider maintain the service application, if problems occur.
  • Legal Costs: The field workforce usually has fewer legal obligations than healthcare or finance, but consider consulting with a legal team when implementing BYOD for just some of the following reasons: 
    • Security breach notification laws apply to most states
    • International data transferring laws
    • Workers may not clock out when working off-site
    • Legal and contractual obligations around retaining and deleting data

Cross-platform field service apps make BYOD possible

mobile cross platform apps

It can be difficult to transition to BYOD if the service management app you use isn’t cross-platform. Even if you aren’t currently using BYOD, a cross-platform app provides the flexibility to switch, meaning it’s best to use a service app which runs on any device or major mobile platform.

Many service companies are creating BYOD policies and overcoming challenges. Remember, the transition’s not always easy. It takes the right supporting technology, apps, and programs for successful BYOD at any company.

Cloud 101: Guide to Managing Field Service in the Cloud

BYOD gets a lot easier with a cloud-based service app. Use this guide to prepare your team for a transition to managing field service in the cloud.