Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies were all the rage a few years ago. After all, few of us want to carry two mobile phones, and businesses were happy to not have to buy new handsets and laptops.
At least, that was the theory. In reality, there were problems.
Few Irish businesses actually went down the BYOD road. There were two problems: firstly, employees performing work tasks on private devices creates an obvious compliance problem and a vector for attack. Secondly, and this became clear during the March lockdown, many people simply don’t have the right devices.
And yet capital investment in phones, tablets and laptops adds up. The answer is device-as-a-service (DaaS), said Finbarr O’Riordan, sales director at Typetec Ireland.
“BYOD wasn't ever really popular in Ireland. Certainly in the corporate sector it wasn't a runner. For a start, there was too much complexity mixing the personal device with the corporate data,” he said.
“Also, it could be five grand for a high-end machine when you include software, so people weren’t getting the devices they needed.”
This, plus a wider shift in accounting practices from capital expenditure to current expenditure, means businesses are only too happy to procure devices on an as-needed basis.
“The subscription is very elastic, and there’s visibility around your costs,” said O’Riordan.
As for the devices themselves, O’Riordan said that the choice is wide. Typetec has found Microsoft’s Surface range to be very popular, but other peripheral machines that we may not typically think of as ‘devices’ are also available.
“Device can be anything from the device [such as a tablet, laptop or phone] itself to peripherals. Devices come in all shapes and sizes: if you look at the modern workplace you have a lot of different needs. Executives may want something very sleek but maybe not a workhorse, whereas frontline workers and people out on the road are looking for something very mobile,” he said.
Surface obviously integrates well with the Microsoft software ecosystem, from Microsoft 365 to Azure, but Typetec is also there to support its customers.
“We manage the software stack, the security stack, the end-user support, the [device] end-of-life, the whole life cycle. We don’t just hand out the devices and then send a bill.”
Security is, of course, a core part of the equation – and has become more important than ever with people working away from the office.
“With Covid-19, everybody has been busy, even the bad guys. We’ve seen a lot of attacks taking place all over the world, leading to repetitional damage, emotional damage and financial damage,” he said.
For O’Riordan, the other side of the pandemic is that it has led to a shift in working practices that is likely to stick even as we recover. As a result of more home-working, devices will become more important than ever.
“The technology is there. It was always a cultural shift that was needed,” he said. “I’m out in sales, I’m out on the road. I would have thought it’d need to always be face-to-face, but I’ve found that’s not necessarily the case.”
For those outside sales, too, there can be major productivity boosts, not to mention improvements in quality of life. “Sitting on the M50 in traffic isn’t productive,” said O’Riordan.