Mobile roundup: BYOD, FYOD, and SYOD

by Joey deVilla on June 17, 2015

BYOD: Four big benefits


Entrepreneur cites a couple of studies from last year that say:

  • Most companies have some kind of program allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work, and…
  • More than a third of the mobile devices in today’s workplaces are employees’ personal devices.

They point to four reasons why BYOD — that’s short for “Bring Your Own Device” — boost productivity. If your organization already has a BYOD program, you’ve prObably already internalized these, and if not, you may want to think about them:

  1. BYOD gives employees the freedom to choose where and how they work. This sort of freedom is so valuable to a significant number of people; 20% of respondents to a Flexjobs survey of 1,500 people looking for work showed that they’d take a pay cut for flexible work options.
  2. BYOD instills a greater sense of ownership. Letting people use personal devices helps them extend that sense of ownership to their work. The end result is often motivated, engaged employees who “go the extra mile”.
  3. BYOD is a way to attract and retain creative talent. Allowing the use of personal devices is a signal to employees that you trust their judgement on a number of dimensions: their personal choice of technology, their preferred way to work, and to work outside the constraints of the office. It says “we don’t think of you as a corporate drone, but as an intelligent, capable human being,” which is a powerful statement in a world that seems to be increasingly commoditized.
  4. BYOD can reduce your operating expenses. A well-crafted BYOD plan can cut the cost of purchasing, managing, and maintaining a fleet of mobile devices, and reduce your IT team’s workload.

The trick is to make sure that you’ve thought out your organization’s approach to BYOD. A key part of this process is coming up with a set of policies on appropriate use of BYOD devices for work, and educating your users about these policies and how to use their personal mobile devices effectively and securely.

FYOD: Fix your own device! (or: Supporting increasingly self-reliant users)


FierceCIO points to a recent study that features two seemingly contradictory observations about employees and their relationship with their companies’ IT departments:

  • They’re generally satisfied with their companies’ IT departments and the service they’re getting from them.
  • They’re also more self-reliant than ever and are willing to take care of their own IT issues, despite the fact that IT departments of all sizes are quick to respond to requests for help.

In fact, going to IT for help with a technical issue isn’t the first thing most employees with tech troubles do. The vast majority prefer to take matters into their own hands:

The practical lesson that you should take from this data is that if you want happy, productive people with a minimum of downtime from tech issues, you should provide them with IT resources that enable them to help themselves, especially for issues that can be handled without IT department intervention. Simple “how-to” guides for common tech problems posted on an internal company site — perhaps even contributed to and edited by your employees themselves, and edited and enhanced by your IT department — are often all you need to help maximize uptime and free your IT team to work on the issues that can’t be dealt with by end users.

SYOD: Smuggle Your Own Device


The downside of the growing tendency towards IT self-reliance is something that we like to call “SYOD”, short for “smuggle your own device”. That’s when employees use personal devices for work, accessing corporate online resources without the knowledge or approval of IT departments. Ernst and Young have pointed out that SYOD often arises in the absence of any BYOD program, and in 2013, research firm Ovum reported that:

  • Nearly 70% of employees who own a smartphone or tablet use it to access corporate data.
  • Of those employees:
    • A little more than 15% access that data without the IT department’s knowledge.
    • Almost 21% access that data in defiance of an anti-BYOD policy.

If SYOD is happening at your organization, it means that there are needs that aren’t being met, and that people are being self-reliant, actively helping themselves and looking for solutions. This as an opportunity to help them, and perhaps even to recast IT as an enabler rather than a barrier.

this article also appears in the GSG blog

this article also appears on the enterprise mobile blog


work the room

Here’s the third in a series of tips for making the most of your experience at the GIANT conference taking place this week in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. In case you missed the prior ones, here they are:

Breaking and entering is NOT a crime (not in the “working a room” sense, anyway)

Susan RoAne, author of How to Work a Room, has codified a technique for mingling at parties and conferences that I had to learn the hard way: breaking and entering. Here’s how it works:

1. Pick a lively group of people you’d like to join in conversation.

pick a group of people

As people who are already in a conversation, they’ve already done some of the work for you. They’re lively, which makes it more likely that they’re open to people joining in (and hey, this is GIANT. The attendees by and large are a friendly, lively, rad group). They’ve also picked a topic, which saves you the effort of hving to come up with one. It also lets you decide whether or not it interests you. If they’re lively and their topic of conversation interests you, proceed to step 2. If not, go find another group!

2. Stand on the periphery and look interested.

I know, this part might remind you of this introvert’s nightmare:

man trying to join conversation

Click the photo to read the Onion article.

Just do it. This is a conference, and one of the attendees’ goals is to meet people. Smile. Pipe in if you have something to contribute; people here are pretty cool about that.

3. When acknowledged, step into the group.

keep calm and join the group

You’re in like Flynn! Step in confidently and introduce yourself. If you’ve got that one-line summary of who you are that I talked about earlier, now’s the time to use it.

4. Don’t change the subject.

Hey man, you’re guest at this convo, and you’re not campaigning. Contribute, and let the subject changes come naturally.

Now go forth and mingle. I’ll see you at the parties!

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work the roomHere’s the third in a series of tips for making the most of your experience at the GIANT conference taking place this week in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. In case you missed the prior ones, here they are:

You may be a guest, but you are also a host!

The people behind GIANT are fantastic conference organizers; it’s my favorite conference since RubyFringe and FutureRuby, which were so mind-blowing that they led a number of attendees to quit their jobs and start their own Ruby-based companies. Those conferences had such a special vibe and brought together such great people, and GIANT is the only conference I’ve been to that captures that same feel.

Just as RubyFringe and FutureRuby brought together some of the coolest, smartest, most interesting developers you’ll meet, GIANT brings together some of the coolest, smartest, most interesting designers you’ll meet. In one way, really don’t belong here — I’m really a developer who turned into a marketing guy — but in another way, I really do. I’m an extrovert in a field where a lot of people tend towards introversion, and I serve a useful role here: I will introduce people here to other people.

Think of the parties that you enjoyed most. What made them so enjoyable? Was it the venue? The food? The drinks? The bathrooms? I’d lay good odds that what made the party enjoyable was the people.

The GIANT organizers know this, which is why they went to great lengths to make their conference attractive to “people who do rad work”, as they put it. They’d love to make sure that the rad people they invited mix and mingle, but they’re vastly outnumbered by their guests. They can’t do it alone. They need you to play host.

That means that if you see someone who’s standing at the periphery of the room, looking lost or lonely, walk up and introduce yourself! If you’re in a group conversation and see someone hovering at the periphery, invite them in! If you’re one of the fortunate people who knows other people at this shindig, do introductions! The best guests, the ones who get invited back to parties, the ones who strike up friendships and opprtunities, are the ones who also play the role of hosts.

See you out there at GIANT! I’ll be the one with the accordion, pretending to be a host.

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work the roomHere’s the second in a series of tips for making the most of your experience at the GIANT conference taking place this week in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. In case you missed the first one, it’s over here.

was going to call it “your personal elevator pitch”, but that sounded a little too Silicon Valley (the TV show or the real place, take your pick) for me. So I’m calling it “your one-line self-introduction”.

A one-line self-introduction is simply a single-sentence way of introducing yourself to people you meet at a conference. It’s more than likely that you won’t know more than a handful of attendees and introducing yourself over and over again, during the conference, as well as its post-session party events. It’s a trick that Susan RoAne, room-working expert and author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections In-Person and Online teaches, and it works. It’s pretty simple:

  • Keep it short — no longer than 10 seconds, and shorter if possible. It’s not your life story, but a pleasantry that also gives people just a little bit about who you are.
  • Make it fit. GIANT’s tagline is “the conference for people who do rad work”. It should give people a hint of the rad work that you do (or, if you’re slogging it out in the hopes of doing rad work someday, the rad work you intend to do.)
  • Show your benefits. Rather than simply give them your job title, tell them about a benefit that your work provides in a way that invites people to find out more. Susan RoAne likes to tell a story about someone she met whose one-liner was “I help rich people sleep at night”. That’s more interesting than “I’m a financial analyst”.

Here’s the one-liner I’m thinking of going with: “I’m a rock and roll accordion player, but in my side gig, I help Fortune 500 companies with mobile and write mobile apps.”

I have an even better introduction for my accordion: “This? It’s social hardware.”

See you at GIANT!

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work the room

Last year, I was at the GIANT conference in Charleston, but not as an attendee.

My then-fiancee, now-wife attended the conference while I spent the days working remotely from a number of wifi-equipped cafes and snapping pictures in Charleston’s lovely downtown, and the evenings attending GIANT’s many interesting social events as her “arm ornament”.

Despite being a non-attendee, I got into a number of interesting conversations, talking both shop and non-shop topics, and making friends and connections who occupy my contacts list, social media feeds, email and online reading today. This happened because I worked the room.

The second GIANT conference starts this coming week, and this year, I’m an official, paid-for, proper attendee. For the benefit of my fellow attendees, I’m sharing my “how to work the room” tips and tricks, which I’ve learned over the years as a conference-goer, tech evangelist, and street musician in installments.

I’m posting this one first, because I want to make sure I’m catching GIANT attendees who are packing right now…

If you have a reasonably portable musical acoustic instrument, bring it and play it proudly!

I like to refer to my accordion as “social hardware”. Ever since that fateful day when the accordion made me an accidental rock star at Toronto’s most notorious goth bar, I’ve taken it to social events and conferences, and the payoffs have been nothing short of spectacular, from making friends to landing job offers to meeting The Missus.

I thought I’d be the only non-official musician at the parties last year, but I wasn’t! Katie Greff (pictured above) brought not just her ukulele, but a stack of lyrics and chord charts, and we had a grand old jam session at the closing night party at the Blue Ion offices. If you’ve got an instrument and sheet music, bring them!

The accordion worked well beyond just jamming with fellow musicians. It’s a conversation starter, a way to add an interesting touch to someone’s birthday (at a large enough conference, it’s always someone’s birthday, and how many people get a personal accordion performance of “Happy Birthday” at a conference?), and if there’s a karaoke night — and yes, there is one at this year’s GIANT — people will invite you to back them up onstage. I’ve you’ve never done karaoke with an instrument before, I will lead a master class on quickly looking up song chords, getting a quick practice session in, and then rocking out on stage.

If you feel a little weird about bringing an instrument to a conference, don’t! If there’s any conference that does vive la difference well, it’s GIANT. And hey, the last conference I attended with my accordion was one full of people who spend half their waking weekdays wearing button-down shirts, misusing the word “spend” as a noun, and making PowerPoint presentations out of walls of bullet points, and I got them into sing-alongs by the end of the night. You can be sure that GIANT’s decidedly less buttoned-down crowd will be into hanging out with a musician.

The only thing you have to remember is that you don’t have to play it all the time. Read people’s faces, and look for the sign that it’s time to stop playing and starting conversing. After all, that’s what we’re really at the conference to do.

Go forth, harness the social powers of music, and bring your instrument! And look for the guy with the accordion — I’ll be happy to jam with you in just about any genre (and I do mean any).



Pictured from left to right: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

There are times when only Japan can come up with the right visual metaphor.


85 percent of financial success

Found via Ray Higdon.

Don’t get me wrong, having technical skill is valuable. But as a reader of this blog, you may be aware that sometimes, we focus on tech skills almost exclusively, to the detriment of other ones, including people skills. Even the name we give them — soft skills — shows the low regard in which we hold them, despite the fact that time and again, they often make the difference between success and failure. There’s a reason why the phrase “unrecognized genius” is a cliche.

soft skills

As techies, we’re often reading books to improve our abilities. Why not, instead of picking up one that will improve your grasp of a programming language, framework, or operating system, pick up a book on soft skills? John Sonmez’ book, Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual, is a book that aims to teach those valuable people and life management skills in a way that appeals to software developers and other techies. It’s broken down into the following sections:

  1. Career: “Few software developers actively manage their careers,” Sonmez writes, “but the most successful developers don’t arrive at success by chance.” He starts off the book with a section that covers how to actively guide your career, the kinds of opportunities you might want to pursue, and how to navigate all the tricky passages you’ll encounter, whether it’s company politics, working for yourself or someone else, working on-site or remotely, the value of people skills, and the importance of not getting religious about technology.
  2. Marketing Yourself: As a developer turned marketer, I know the bad reputation that marketing has. When a developer says “So-so moved to marketing”, it’s usually said with the same tone of voice as “So-so died…horribly and painfully.” But we often forget that marketing gets people’s attention, drives them to take action, and when done properly and ethically, offers people real value and keeps them coming back for more. You can’t succeed in any aspect of business — or even life — if you don’t market yourself.
  3. Learning: In a field like ours — remember, the definition of “computable” isn’t even a century old yet — things are constantly changing, and as a result, we have to keep learning. Sonmez explains how to “keep your saw sharp”.
  4. Productivity: I’ve seen a lot of geeks whose productivity comes in great spikes followed by doldrums of getting nothing of consequence done. The technology we work with comes with powerful distractions, from social media to cat videos to videogames, and it’s all too easy to while away the time. This section has some great advice on how to get down and get to work, how to be accountable, and if necessary, how to deal with burnout.
  5. Financial: Since a techie career often pays pretty well, it’s surprising to outsiders how uninteresting money is to many of us. However, to quote a much-loved geeky literary work, with great compensation comes great financial responsibility. Sonmez covers money management, retirement plans, the stock market, real estate and other matters that you’d do well to consider. He includes some additional information about finances and stocks in the appendices.
  6. Fitness: A mind can’t stay sound in an unsound body, and this is something that Sonmez can write about with some authority, as he’s been into fitness since his teen years and entered his first bodybuilding competition when he was 18. He explains why and how you can hack your health, and even threw in some additional diet and nutritional information in the appendices.
  7. Spirit: Before you start backing away, what Sonmez means by “spirit” is that inner force or motivation that can either put you on the path to success or send you careening into the chasm of failure. This section covers facing life with the right attitude, coping with both success and failure, and even managing love and relationships. (And yes, he couldn’t resist throwing in a “forever alone” graphic into the “love and relationships” chapter.)

Don’t let the fact that the book has over 70 chapters worry you. As Sonmez points out in this Java Code Geeks interview, he broke the book into many small chapters so that it would be easier to read to the end of whatever chapter you were currently on, no matter how pressed you were for time. “I really wanted to make the book the kind of book that you enjoyed reading; a book that you could just pick up and read whatever parts happened to be relevant to you at the time.”

I wish I had this book when I was starting out on my career, but even at this stage of the game (20 years in, if you must know), there’s stuff in it that I found in Soft Skills that made me go, “Hey, I think I’ll try that.” If you’ve been thinking about picking up a new book to sharpen your saw, try a non-technical one — Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual — for a change. You might find it paying off in more ways than you’d expect.

Bonus! Today only — Wednesday, June 10, 2015 — Soft Skills is available in ebook form for 50% off with the promo code dotd061015, which knows its price down to a mere US$13.99.