Same Software, Different Device: Are Your Employees Really Working With the Same Tools in a BYOD Workplace?

Last week, the IT Peer Network Administrator discussed the rise of "choose your own device," or "CYOD" - a BYOD compromise program that allows employees to choose their preferred device from a menu of business-approved options. The push for CYOD benefits several different stakeholders: employees are able to work on their preferred devices, IT is able to support only the devices that meet enterprise class security and manageability standards, and the business as a whole is insulated from platform disparities that get in the way of collaboration.

After reading the post "Is Your Mobile Device Delivering a Sub-Optimal Business Experience?" and its accompanying research, I was struck by how significantly solution functionality can vary, depending on how the software is delivered and on what hardware device - a combination we at Intel often call the platform.  With that in mind, I immediately thought about how easily this complexity could manifest itself in a BYOD workplace.

To demonstrate the impact a mix of devices without enterprise standards can have on a workplace, I've put together a hypothetical BYOD office scenario based on Prowess Consulting's Microsoft OneNote research. Could this happen in your business?



In this hypothetical BYOD workplace, employees are expected to use Microsoft OneNote as their note-taking software. Pam, the team leader, gathers Joe, Greg, Rachel, and Todd in a conference room for a meeting to review the Robinson contract. The team fires up their mobile devices - a variety of slick new phones, tablets and devices.

Pam - who is using the desktop app on a Windows 8 powered 2-in-1 device - has full access to all the business features of OneNote, and assumes that everyone has the full set of features, as well. Pam has the team open the Robinson contract in OneNote.

Because the team will be talking through important account information, no conversation detail should slip through the cracks. Pam asks Greg – who is running the OneNote Office 2013 app on his Surface RT tablet – to take an audio recording of the meeting and to later embed the audio file in the meeting minutes. Greg has to apologize, however, because this version of OneNote doesn’t support audio recording, so Pam opens her recording software.

During the meeting, the team brainstorms a new workflow for the Robinson account. Rachel is asked to sketch the new workflow in OneNote, which she’s running on her Android tablet. It turns out that Rachel’s version of OneNote doesn’t support drawing (with a stylus or her finger) despite using a touch-enabled device, so the team has to ask around to find a team member who is able to draw in their OneNote app. Pam displays her system and begins sketching the proposal while the team gives their input.

They all agree that certain pages from the contract require further review, so Pam asks Joe - who is using the Windows Store app - to email the pages to the rest of the team after the meeting. Unfortunately, his version of OneNote isn’t integrated with Outlook, and he’s unable to complete Pam’s request. Pam sends her version out instead.

Joe, using the OneNote web app, looks forward to digging into some more details on the Robinson contract on his commute home. He gets on the train, and finds that because the train doesn’t offer wi-fi, he’s not able to access the document. He figures that he’ll just download the contract when he arrives home, and have it available locally for his commute into work the next morning. Unfortunately, the OneNote web app doesn’t allow documents to be saved locally, and Joe misses out on valuable review time.

Business productivity is a delicate balance of both individual effectiveness and team efficiency. So while OneNote is a highly-regarded, valuable productivity software, when a variety of devices create a disruption in workflow, the benefits of user flexibility can ground business productivity to a screeching stop.

How do you handle platform differences in your workplace? Have you made any efforts to streamline and standardize BYOD devices or applications?

Check out the full list of features and how they fluctuate between different versions of Microsoft OneNote in this white paper from Prowess Consulting.

Check out this infographic for more information on OneNote's optimal platform.

Different platforms and devices can often yield drastically different results. For a study comparing web browsing capabilities of several mobile devices, click here.

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