In the days of yore, every person in a law firm would have the same company-issued devices: a Windows laptop and the corporate staple of smartphones - the BlackBerry. Companies had to worry about supporting one computer and one smartphone. For the IT department, this was absolute nirvana.
Laptop broke? Here, take an exact replica.
BlackBerry lost? Here, take an exact replica while we remotely wipe your device.
Having an issue with a driver? Guess what? We all are. It'll be fixed in a jiffy!
Many firms and businesses still run on this monotonous model. After all, not only does it theoretically make things simpler for the IT department, but inertia is a powerful force in corporate policies. Why then, are other law firms and companies choosing to adopt "bring your own device" (BYOD) policies?
Blame the BlackBerry
The Crackberry, which was a user and IT department favorite, fell far behind in market share after the iPhone and Android smartphones were released. When users had more powerful, functional, and user-friendly personal devices in their pocket, their satisfaction with company-provided BlackBerries waned.
Some companies grew tired of complaints. Others had crafty users sneaking devices onto the network and accessing company resources through personal iPhones. Many just wanted their employees to have access to the most functional devices.
BYOD is Often Cheaper
Company-provided devices are paid for by, well, the company. Employee-provided devices aren't. Take, for example, the experience of Citrix, which provided employees stipends to purchase their own devices with manufacturer extended support. Because of the reduced in-house repair costs (thanks to the warranties), they actually saved an estimated $500 per laptop.
The same piece on Citrix (well worth the read if you are considering BYOD) points out a few other benefits. For one, users are kinder and gentler with their own devices. Also, because of the familiarity with their devices, there are less calls to the help desk. (No more Mac users whining about Microsoft's quirks, and vice-versa.)
Not an IT Nightmare
If you do decide to BYOD, there are a few steps you can take at your firm that may reduce the chances of an IT department mutiny. After all, with the variety of consumer devices (tablets, phones, laptops, etc.) and operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, etc.), you're going to need to set some restrictions on which devices are acceptable. (No ancient Palm Treos!)
Beyond that, you'll also want to look into cloud-based software, especially cloud-based law practice management platforms. Because these are browser-based, they work on any device, obviating any compatibility issues.
In terms of security, it's not as bad as you might expect. You could individually manage each device and operating system, but that would definitely cause an IT mutiny. On the other hand, the CDW folks can help you with a Total Mobility Management solution that allows your law firm's IT department to manage all of those devices with cross-platform software. Remote wipe? No problem. Antivirus and malware checks? Easy enough. Locate a lost phone? It's in your pocket, fool!
BYOD may not be as easy as the "one phone, one laptop" solutions of yore, but the benefits likely outweigh the cost. Remember that happier workers, who are less distracted by unsatisfactory technology, are almost certainly more productive workers. And with an MDM in place, and device manufacturers handling hardware repair, it might cost your firm less to run a BYOD program.
In today's competitive marketplace, law firms face many unique challenges: streamlining processes, improving efficiency, keeping clients happy and maintaining confidentiality--all while controlling costs. We've got a solution for you.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and compensation was provided by CDW. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of CDW.