December 05, 2012, 5:00 PM — Shortly after the iPad debuted two-and-a-half years ago, the CEO of Quest Software (now Dell Software Group) arrived at work with an iPad wanting to hook it up to the network and receive sensitive email, such as Salesforce.com reports.
"That's when we realized we had a problem," says Carol Fawcett, CIO of Dell Software.
Like many CIOs, Fawcett suddenly had to deal with two trends hitting her corporate network at once: tablets and bring-your-own devices, or BYOD. She admits to stumbling early on by concentrating too much on devices but then quickly regained her footing by focusing on the end user.
This led to some 40 Web apps available to employees, depending on their roles. Employees can access apps, data and email on virtually any device running a popular browser, which Fawcett believes that this kind of flexibility and freedom is vital to employee satisfaction in the new era of mobility and BYOD.
Today, Dell Software has a couple hundred tablets tapping into its network. A vast majority of them are BYOD iPads. In addition, there are 4,300 smartphones that fall under the company's BYOD mandate.
CIO.com sat down with Fawcett to find out her secrets to BYOD and iPad success.
What is the biggest mistake most people make with BYOD?
Fawcett: I just talked to my admin group the other day, and they said, 'You know, Carol, we don't really have a BYOD program.' What we've really got is just the enabling of end users to access applications and data on whatever devices and within certain security boundaries.
We didn't start with a BYOD project, rather with some tablets, Droids and smartphones that came in. And so we started out by saying that our technicians who come to your desk will be proficient in, say, 10 to 12 different devices and OSes. We said we're only going to do so much with the device you bring in.
With this approach, you'll only satisfy about 80% of your internal employees.
You need to recognize your limitations. In the end, you can't support the physical aspect of it, you can't support every device somebody will bring in. You have to step back and recognize that if you attempt to support every single device, your cost for an IT department will just raise up so high.
After working the device angle, we quickly realized that if we continued down this path we would be forever firefighting devices.
So we decided to turn this upside down and stop focusing so heavily on devices. Instead, we're going to focus on security and access rights for an individual, and then give them a flexible ways of accessing applications.