Apple @ Work: Does ‘BYOD’ make sense for remote organizations who use Apple?

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The argument about “bring your own device” and company-owned devices has continued for much of the last two decades. Initially, there was almost no reason for a BYOD environment as enterprise networks were heavily tied to an Active Directory environment. As time has gone on, and we’ve moved to a cloud-first model, that argument has started to shift, though. So, in 2021, Does BYOD make sense – especially in an Apple-focused enterprise? This week, I want to explain why I think BYOD is a good strategy, and next week, I’ll look at the benefits of going institutional-owned.

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.

Benefits of BYOD

With such a rise in remote work opportunities, the reasons for a BYOD environment have changed. In some ways, hardware has become somewhat irrelevant in the enterprise. That’s not to say that people don’t care about what hardware they have, but rather, it’s not as crucial for accessing specific company applications.

Before most key corporate apps moved to a SaaS-cloud model, it was almost required to have Windows. Today, nearly all of your apps can easily be accessed in a web browser, so it doesn’t matter if you have Windows or Mac. In reality, the move away from native apps has been good for Apple in the enterprise as Macs can easily access apps that previously required a PC. Now, services like Okta and JumpCloud are as much the “OS” as macOS or Windows.

From a logistics perspective, not being involved in ordering and shipping devices makes a lot of sense – especially for remote teams.

Employee choice

A key benefit of BYOD is that employees get to pick their own devices. Suppose a company gives a stipend on how to spend it. With the release of the M1 Apple laptops, most employees can get by without needing to upgrade to a higher-end Pro model laptops, though. Let’s say that you give employees a $1500 stipend; they can choose how to outfit their computer with their upgrades and accessories. If an employee wants to get more storage over the limit, they can upgrade out of pocket.

Almost any computer sold today will be perfectly capable for people doing non-development/design work as well. Obviously, for those positions, an additional stipend might be needed.

Makes repairs easy

One thing I would think strongly about is requiring AppleCare+ if you go the BYOD route. One of the benefits of Apple’s end-to-end hardware and software model is that there is only one place to go for help. If you run into a problem that ends up being hardware-related, an IT department can send you to a local Apple Store for repairs. As long as the device is under AppleCare+, there shouldn’t be any out-of-pocket costs unless accidental damage.

When organizations don’t own the machines, they aren’t responsible for repairs. Instead, it’ll be up to employees to ensure they have a working machine, just as it’s their responsibility to ensure their home internet is working.

Easy to enroll in MDM

Even for BYOD devices, Apple makes it easy to enroll these devices into a mobile device management solution so organizations can enforce policies and install corporate apps. Again, Apple has done an excellent job on macOS at preserving the Apple experience while organizations can still ensure compliance through MDM.

Although macOS Monterey will make it possible to enroll BYOD Macs into Apple Business Manager, that likely won’t be the strategy for remote teams as the process won’t scale for employees using Apple Configurator on the iPhone.

Next week: Why BYOD is a bad idea

In the coming weeks, I will look at the benefits of an institutional-owned strategy and why it might make sense for larger organizations to consider.

Photo by Anthony Choren on Unsplash

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