Of bots and BYOD user support

Image by Oliur Rahman via Unsplash

Chatbots and bring your own device (BYOD) are two of the most predominate technology trends right now. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about chat bots and how they are changing some business workflows.

I’m predicting that some innovative enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendor could implement chat bots to assist with the onboarding of employee mobile devices into a corporate BYOD program. While there’s been a lot of improvements around enterprise app stores, the concept of a touch-free device onboarding is still ways off for some enterprises. Less technically savvy users will have questions and need their hand-held to get their smartphone live on corporate applications.

Chatbots could be another communications channel to alert mobile users about needed software updates, policy changes, and additional security measures that an organization is putting in place to protect their corporate data, users, and to mitigate other risks.

Consider that popular chat platforms Slack and Atlassian HipChat support chatbots. There’s also a growing list of chat bots that support SMS. Chatbots are gradually finding a place with online customer service applications. Chatbots taking the hand-ff for BYOD onboarding support in the near future isn’t too far of a stretch. Back in the pre-bot days when I was freelancing for CNET TechRepublic and writing heavily about BYOD and enterprise mobility, I did hear from a company that was trying to adapt their support tool to serve up BYOD content. The 2016 answer would be a chatbot.

A few years ago, I came to see that the bill is going to come due for some enterprises that overspent for BYOD support. Chatbots could free up help desk support from some BYOD support tasks leading to call deflection and overhead cost savings.

Will these two trends meet together at the help desk? Share your opinion in the comments.


Originally published at willkelly.org on September 9, 2016.

Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and Neustar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

The challenges facing BYOD certification


A question that crops up every so often in the forums and from readers is when can we expect a vendor certification focusing on bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Considering the multi-layered complexities around BYOD implementation, security, and management, vendor technology certification seems to be a natural step. While significant challenges remain, there have been some upstarts pointing to BYOD certification in the future.

In August 2013, Condition Zebra, an IT risk management consulting firm, announced a BYOD certification program. However, except for an article announcing the certification on FierceEnterpriseCommunications and the company’s site, I can find no other references to the certification.

I also came across Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Cisco Training from Global Knowledge, an IT training provider. The curriculum pushes Cisco Unified Access as a BYOD solution. However, the courses don’t lead to an industry certification.

CompTIA added more iOS, Android, and cloud topics to its widely accepted (and vendor neutral) A+ Certification, which is another start toward a standards-based BYOD certification.

Some challenges facing a BYOD certification program include:

Lack of consistent BYOD definition

BYOD lacks a consistent definition across industries, further complicated when vendors, pundits, and analysts seize on the popularity of the BYOD and spin a definition for their own ends. Even as a writer about BYOD, I was quick to learn early on that organizations define BYOD in terms of the benefits they want it to bring to their business. Unfortunately, neither approach contributes to establishing a BYOD certification program.

Governance and Risk Compliance (GRC) have yet to act fully

Governance and Risk Compliance (GRC) programs, most notably the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry (PCI), and Data Security Standard (DSS), could offer up a start for BYOD standards that could see a certification for IT staff tasked to support BYOD initiatives. However, these GRC certifications have a reputation for being quite slow moving.

No platform vendor involvement

Vendor approved BYOD training curriculum isn’t available yet to support the mobile application development, device management, and security platforms that are becoming popular to support BYOD devices. Companies want their employees to get recognized certifications from vendors. No such vendor BYOD-specific certifications could mean the market for BYOD certification just isn’t at the point where it can make money for the vendors. The time is certain to come though.

Towards an industry standard BYOD certification

Outside of the challenges I mention, we’ve yet to see the first big-dollar lawsuit because of BYOD. While that’s not a challenge, I still rank it as a key event that will drive the need for BYOD certification.

In the absence of an industry-wide BYOD certification, organizations need to define the technical skills critical to managing the security of their BYOD initiative that their IT staff requires. Certification training from CompTIA or another recognized provider can still cover your IT staff. Then augment it with vendor training or certification for the mobile device management (MDM) and/or other security and management solutions an organization has in place.

Do you see an industry standard BYOD certification in the future? Share your opinions in the comments.

This post was originally posted on The Mobility Hub on January 22, 2014. The site is no longer online.

Image by Annie Spratt via UnSplash.com


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, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

4 ways to support BYOD users with maximum call deflection

Image by Christian Widell via Unsplash.com

Even in 2016, some of the most lingering questions about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) outside of security are around user support. No self-respecting help desk supervisor is going to want to see their numbers get dinged because of one Android flavor or another.

An old client of mine once taught me about call deflection with help desks and call centers. It’s when you put the training, processes,and efforts in to ensure an end user doesn’t have to call the help desk for technical assistance.

Here are some ways to support BYOD users with maximum call deflection:

1. Run as close to an airtight on-boarding process as possible

One way to support BYOD users with maximum call deflection is to run an airtight device and user on-boarding process for your program. While no on-boarding process is going to survive the first wave of devices, you need to put in the staff, tools, and methods to adjust your on-boarding processes.

Some hidden elements of just such an on-boarding process might include:

  • User documentation
  • Automated versus user driven
  • BYOD policy in place and signed off by the users
  • Easy opt-out for employees who don’t want to participate in BYOD

2. Know your limitations

As BYOD keeps chugging through 2016, organizations should now know their limitations are going to be in a better position to support their users. Such limitations might include:

  • In-house technical expertise especially with mobile devices OSes
  • Budget
  • Security, in particular, endpoint management

While on the surface, BYOD may seem like a bolt-on for existing infrastructure when in fact some real technical and budgetary traps are laying in wait for organizations..

Another limitation to keep in mind is what apps your help desk will support. Companies running on Office 365 can be in good shape here managing their limitations but others running on more legacy technology stacks need to make some decisions on what systems will be open to BYOD access. Reasons limiting access include:

  • Licensing costs
  • Additional security software costs
  • User training

3. Know your user community

I’ve written in the past to keep the HR department out of BYOD because I think the IT department needs unfiltered contact with the end users they support. If a user brings in a smartphone or tablet with calling/data plan they pay for, by all means, they need to be given a seat at the table and treated as a full stakeholder in the BYOD effort.

Knowing your BYOD user community best comes with direct relationships with power users and other respected employees that are out there doing the work, not with some arbitrary HR layer put in between the end users and IT staff responsible for supporting mobile devices.

You also need to find users who are vested in BYOD. Users who want it. I have an uncle who had a successful career with a major telecommunications company back in the pre-smartphone days. When cell phones were first becoming affordable to everybody, he was asked to give his cell phone number to his manager. My uncle said No. Among his reasons was that if the company wanted to contact him, they could give him a company-paid cell phone to carry. Trust me, people like him still exist. They’ll never support your BYOD effort without protestations. You aren’t going to get value out of your limited support dollars with this user.

If you have users like my uncle within your organization, you need to be as much of an advocate for them as you are of employees who are all in with BYOD. Otherwise, those users could be a drag on your support team. Do what you need to avoid even the impression of mandatory BYOD.

4. Create user documentation

Using a smartphone or tablet isn’t second nature to everybody including snake people. Supporting BYOD users with maximum call deflection means an upfront investment in user and process documentation. Typical documentation includes:

  • Device setup guide or job aid walking the user through security settings and what the company may have installed on their personal device
  • Documentation that lays out the user responsibilities for device support
  • App documentation

Bottom line

The bottom line for supporting BYOD users with maximum call deflection is to break down the silos between users and IT. Users with a vested interest in going BYOD will always be easier to support then users being dragged into the initiative.


Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and NeuStar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

BYOD and taxes


The son of a good friend of mine is a master mechanic for a major auto dealership chain. He owns his own tools. His employer doesn’t. He takes off the cost of his tools as an employee business expense on his taxes every year. He collects tools as some of us collect tablets and smartphones.

Tax season, and my friend’s son deducting his tools got me thinking about the current state of full-time employees, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and those who are denied personal tax deductions on their United States federal taxes.

Full-time employees face the intersection of BYOD and taxes where the

The self-employed have an advantage because they can write off device purchases as a business expense on their federal taxes. David sees a trend of full-time employees needing a side business under which they can deduct mobile device purchases and associated costs.

Note: I’m not a tax accountant, so check with a tax professional before setting up a side business.

The trade off for BYOD users is will it be cost justifiable for them to spend money to write their devices off? Android tablets and smartphones dropping in price make this a consideration for some users. David says his gut feeling is it might be too expensive in tax preparation costs for people to write off such inexpensive devices.

As a freelance writer, I have the opportunity to write off devices. Even when I’ve been a full-time employee, I still pursued freelance projects on the side and was able to deduct device purchases and related expenses on a Schedule C on my federal taxes. I’ve had colleagues do the same, and David himself mentioned doing the same thing during different chapters of his career.

While I hope to see the United States Internal Revenue Service recognize BYOD expenses in the tax codes, it’s still a far off possibility from my perspective. Until that time comes, if ever, companies moving to BYOD (and their employees) will need to consider the BYOD value proposition and the costs it may place on employees who may not want to personally bear such expenses.

Should the United States federal tax codes change to accommodate the growth of BYOD programs in businesses? Sound off in the comments.

Image by Jaelynn Castillo via Unsplash.com

An earlier version of this post appeared on The Mobility Hub (site now offline).


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, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

The 3 amigos: Mobility, BYOD & big data


Enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and big data have become today’s three amigos of technology. They support each other. They get in each other in trouble. And when they’re together, they have a stake in each other’s success.

Mobile devices are becoming popular data collection and reporting tools for big data platforms. Major big data vendors and startups are launching mobile apps to augment and extend big data reporting. These mobile apps take advantage of 3G and 4G, WiFi, and growing improvements in tablet screen resolution and touch screens to democratize access to big data platforms. Knowledge workers and managers can interpret, interact with, and present corporate information from big data platforms directly from their tablets or smartphones with a minimum of training and without having to request reports from IT.

The growth in these mobile apps can have a positive effect on enterprise mobility and BYOD uptake inside an organization.

The rise of BYOD only feeds the demand for big data mobile apps. But this brings with it potential problems and concerns for IT and management. In particular, BYOD and big data can be problematic for legal departments. According to a survey of corporate attorneys conducted by Ari Kaplan Advisors, 64 percent of respondents said the impact of big data would be an “overwhelming challenge for the foreseeable future,” and 32 percent said that BYOD catching on in the workplace would create equally daunting obstacles.

The potential security implications of each of these technologies relative to its business value are also extremely high. That points to the possibility that big data, security, and BYOD strategies would benefit from convergence at some point.

I spoke with Chris Grossman, a big data expert and senior vice president of Rand Worldwide, when he visited the Washington, DC, area where I live. When our conversation turned to big data, mobile devices, and BYOD, he noted, “I’ve always said from a big data perspective that we tend to see the negatives of mobile device usage — the proliferation of data, multiple file types.” However, Grossman stressed that mobility is ultimately a tremendous positive asset, because it enables people to work remotely, more frequently, and efficiently.

“The problem is that the people that make mobile devices… don’t build their OS with the same level of preparation for backup and archiving as the Windows or Linux OSes. So, it does present an equal challenge for IT departments dealing with iOS and Android devices as it for their entire Windows platform,” Grossman explained. He added that he believes BYOD is inevitable and that IT must have a strategy to deal with it.

That strategy should include enterprise mobility in general, and how BYOD is managed, as well as how devices and apps access big data. Providing a solid strategy keeps the “three amigos” on a clear path to success, and out of trouble.

Are enterprise mobility, BYOD, and big data strategies starting to converge in your enterprise?

This post was originally published on The Mobility Hub on September 11, 2013.


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 CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.