With the amount of people who own smartphones nearing 56% and rising, they are quickly becoming a powerful tool for workplace communications and online training. Because the device that people use in their personal lives is often more powerful than the one they’ve been assigned at work, you are seeing a rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace. Gone are the days when an executive or field worker would carry around both their personal flip phone and their company-assigned Blackberry.
However, like any new practice in the workplace, BYOD comes with its share of advantages and its share of headaches.
How BYOD positively affects workplace communication and training.
Today’s smartphones and tablets are deceptively powerful pieces of technology. Don’t let their compact form factor fool you. The latest smartphones pack more processor power than desktops and laptop did five years ago. Coupled with a smaller size and touchscreen, this makes them very attractive to the average person.
From a training perspective, having employees being able to remotely access training and take measures to improve their performance and certifications saves:
Material costs (paper, binders, etc.)
External Trainer costs (lodging, food, etc.)
Employee cost (pulling employees out of their work for several days)
Technology costs (no duplicate technology)
One thing to keep in mind — and especially with smartphones — is that often the technology is quite new. New cell phone contracts in North America average around two years. This means that any device an employee has purchased from their mobile provider is on average a few years old. The mobile provider gives them the option of renewing their contract with the incentive of a new device with a subsidized price.
Even three year old smartphone technology is still very powerful. To put it into perspective, I still use my retired iPhone 3GS to watch Netflix and surf the web even though I’ve upgraded to a newer Android. It’s still very capable of doing the job.
Disadvantages of BYOD
While BYOD solves a lot of problems when it comes to delivering training, there are some unique problems that crop up because of it.
One such reason is that quite often one employee may carry a device with different capabilities and power than a fellow employee. This was a much different story a few years ago when the IT manager would standardize the organization on a single (often outdated) technology because it was easier to manage.
You can almost pinpoint the exact day this all changed. This was the day when the boss brought in their brand new iPhone and asked the IT department why they weren’t able to access company email and resources as easily as they did before.
Now we’re in the day where we have iPhones, Android Phones, in addition to Windows Phones and the newest smartphones from Blackberry. Somehow all of these devices are supposed to be able to work with your organization’s technology infrastructure and deliver mobile learning the same way.
Technology seems to be one step ahead of the game in order to compensate for the difference in devices. Thankfully mobile devices work around the same agreed-upon standards like HTML5 when it comes to rendering your training or online training software.
This means that if your custom elearning courses and LMS are programmed and designed correctly, your training will work optimally on the variety of devices that your workforce carries.
There is a need for due diligence in respect to making sure that courses that both your learning management system (LMS) and the courses it delivers can be viewed optimally on the variety of screen sizes available on smartphones and tablets. It might not seem like a big deal until you try and view a website that isn’t responsively-designed and you or employees have to zoom in to read any content.
One final disadvantage to keep in mind; if an employee’s device is damaged, dropped in the toilet (this happens more often than you think), or worse, clearly it’s up to the employee to replace their phone. A fews ago, the organization IT manager would assign a new device, push out the settings to the phone and the enterprise warranty would take care of the rest. It’s a bit more complicated now.
One last thing….
Being able to deliver up to date training to employees is critical to having a workforce that is safe and efficient. With more and more employees carrying the latest technology in their pocket, the ability to deliver online training and for you to track manage their performance has become easier and easier.
To learn how you can create online training that drives performance, download our free ebook Learn How To Create Performance-Based Elearning.