Productivity gains spur Intel to expand BYOD program

Intel has 23,500 devices and 41 applications and services in its BYOD program

Intel has expanded its bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, which has been a resounding success, providing around 5 million hours of annual productivity gains last year, the company said.

Intel recorded savings of about 57 minutes per employee workday last year with its BYOD program, said Intel's CIO Kim Stevenson, in the company's annual IT report published this week. Intel expanded the number of devices and cloud services available through its growing BYOD program, which has helped improve productivity, but had less of an impact on cost savings.

Intel had 23,500 mobile devices in its BYOD program by the end of last year, an increase of 38 percent from 2011. Intel supported 41 mobile applications at the end of last year and added 16 approved applications that could be used as part of its BYOD program.

Many employees use multiple mobile devices and Intel has built a private cloud through which it provides employees access to company services and information. The cloud computing model allows Intel to support a range of devices, with access provided based on a device's location, preferences and capabilities, Stevenson said in the report.

The type of applications used by Intel in its BYOD program are fairly simple. Employees can easily collaborate through instant messaging or other tools, which has helped save time, Intel said. Other tools help employees access internal information or quickly approve purchase requests.

Intel is also experimenting with new applications such as an "instant conferencing application," which makes it easier to join audio or video conferences. A locator application guides Intel employees through unfamiliar campuses and also makes it easier to find empty conference rooms.

Smartphones are a majority of the 23,500 devices used in Intel's BYOD program, followed by a small number of tablets and laptops. A breakdown was not available on the types of smartphones and tablets being used. However, the company internally issued 500 smartphones using its processors, which are just making their way to handsets. Most smartphones and tablets today have ARM processors, but Intel Inside smartphones just started shipping last year, with the number of available handsets growing.

Intel also counts thin-and-light laptops called ultrabooks as part of its BYOD program. The laptops are used for applications that require more processing power and secure access to specific tools. PCs have a larger screen and are capable of running cloud-based engineering applications, which require more client-side horsepower and are often used by chip design firms like Intel. Intel refreshes PCs every two to four years, Stevenson said.

Ultrabooks also have Intel's security feature called VPro, a hardware-and-software package that helps remotely manage and secure PCs. System administrators can shut down VPro equipped ultrabooks remotely in case a system is compromised or stolen.

Intel has been moving more applications to the cloud as it tries to improve employee mobility. More Intel engineers are using cloud services to design applications for devices in shorter time. With the help of templates and reusable Web services, developers are able to write programs faster, which has also helped bring products to market faster.

The use of handhelds has grown in Intel by over 200 percent over the last two years, so Intel has also taken steps to secure mobile devices to prevent data theft or malware attacks. Intel employs differing levels of security for mobile devices, and has devised a model to determine access privileges depending on a device and location. For example, the model calls for access to more internal information and services via laptops than smartphones. The model is still being tested and will be fully deployed this year.

"The goal is to provide a security infrastructure that does not hinder mobility," Stevenson wrote in the report.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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