Define BYOD for your organization

Apple stock art

Bring your own definition…along with your device.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming one of the more important technology and business trends of out time as it enables employees to bring the devices they want to use into work to access enterprise resources and corporate information in order to get their job done.

Earlier this year, a joint ZDNet/TechRepublic study found more than 44% of organizations already allow BYOD and 18% plan to move to BYOD by End of Year 2013. Another study by Dell found that approximately 70% of companies believe BYOD can improve their work processes and help them work better in the future, while an estimated 59% believe they would be at a competitive disadvantage without BYOD.

Even if you don’t buy into the impressive numbers that ZDNet/TechRepublic and Dell surveys cite, look at your employees and their personal and business devices. Many source says that average user has three devices. Think about it, how many of your employees, contractors, and business partners own a smartphone, tablet (even multiple tablets), and a notebook PC? This doesn’t even have to be the devices that they bring to work everyday, walk around the average home these days and the number of mobile devices multiplies even further.

While those employee devices are out of your organization’s official purview, it’s safe to say that you see them in the office even if it’s tablet poking out of a purse or an employee texting on their personal smartphone while riding on the elevator up to the office.

What do you want BYOD to bring your organization?

As with any technology trend, technology vendors, pundits, analysts, consulting firms and others latch onto it for their own profits. There’s nothing wrong with that in a free market economy. However, an unforeseen after affect is that that the definition of BYOD has gotten polluted as well. While writing on BYOD topics for CNET TechRepublic and The Mobility Hub during this time, I came across no fewer than five definitions for BYOD during the course of vendor briefings and my normal article and post research. Such is to be expected when the marketing department gets involved.

This realization drove me to start recommending that organizations who want to make the move to BYOD define it for themselves. After all, in considering a BYOD initiative, you are trying to get your arms around BYOD to ensure that it can deliver your organization a competitive advantage and other benefits. Defining BYOD in the context of your organization is the first building block to a successful BYOD initiative. There are pundits and analysts out there saying oh the millenials are demanding it, your end users are demanding it, or everybody’s doing and your company should be as well.

However, when you break it down, BYOD is another business decision. Going to BYOD or bypassing it entirely can have a profound influence on how responsive your employees are to prospective and existing customers. There are also productivity implications because your employees will have access to documents and other corporate information across multiple devices from wherever they are working.

The answers to BYOD vary from organization to organization. Then again, BYOD may evolve in an organization overtime as the intermingling of personal devices, corporate information, and infrastructure intermingle.

Why the backlash against “government writers”?

Image by Jacob Creswick via

One of the disturbing trends I’m seeing on this job hunt are employers who don’t want “government writers” for their projects. After being laid off from a position with a government contractor last year, I came across such references perhaps for the first time (that at least I can remember) in job advertisements.

Here’s a direct quote from a job ad I came across:

By contrast, a background in government or national intelligence will likely count against you; this client’s experience is that such exposure dulls one’s writing skills.

Part of me agrees with such feelings. However, after spending three years in the federal sector, I know there can be more to the story. The big secret of technical writers in the federal sector is that they often don’t even do the writing because of documentation by committee or by how many contractors focus on filling seats versus offering the customer (the federal government) an economical solution that fits their needs. I came to see that there was no such thing as a one person project, when a federal contractor could dupe the client into four people for the job.

The real question to be asking is how to find the government technical writer ready to break out of their current situation. The writer who has been keeping their skills up and who wants to get back to work. The technical writer who grew tired as a professional and tax payer of seeing waste across projects on a daily basis. It’s one thing to look down on government writers, but I challenge any of those people to spend onsite in the information technology of a federal government organization.

I watched federal government work lull many a good person into false complacency. When your biggest decision is where to go to lunch that day that is no way to live as a professional. It can be like socialized welfare in many ways.

However, for many people not just writers a federal contract represents work in a down economy. Paying one’s mortgage trumps meaningful work any day.

Don’t hate the writer, hate the game

Commercial opportunities have dwindled in the Washington, DC area so the federal government sector is often times the only game in town.I avoided the federal sector on purpose for years. However, I spent 2009–2012 back on the federal side.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week,, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

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