Published on October 12th, 20120
How law firm DLA Piper tackled BYOD – and transformed IT in the process
Global law firm DLA Piper has tackled the BYOD challenge head on. David Greene, European service manager, explains the entire journey: from accepting that Bring Your Own Device is here to stay, deciding what to support and detailing the eventual solution which has positively changed IT consumption within the business forever.
BYOD starts with acceptance
We embarked on a hardware refresh programme in the spring of 2010 which saw us replacing every desktop and laptop across EMEA with the latest Dell equipment. Disappointedly given the Dell machines were off the best spec, with solid state drives and the fastest processors, staff weren’t particularly impressed because they were more interested in their own devices. At the same time, we began a Blackberry refresh, but found that staff were asking if they had to use Blackberry and whether they could use iPhones instead. At first we resisted, but the lawyers made it clear their own devices were faster and nicer to use.
We were thinking about virtual environments already and, from a budget perspective, reduced demand for hardware is appealing. It also helped when we acquired an Australian law firm which had been exclusively using Macs for years which proved it was possible to move beyond a Windows/Blackberry environment.
Culture and technology challenges
The mindset of the business was already there: “what option do I have beyond Blackberry”? Our challenge was understanding why; do they just want shiny tech, or do they feel more comfortable and productive using their own device? If we were going to embrace BYOD, we couldn’t have them only able to do 60 per cent of their job.
Therefore the biggest challenge was the infrastructure; we had to provide a next generation secure internal network. As a law firm we have to be absolutely confident that if someone loses their iPhone we can lock and wipe it, so risk management were twitching. But by being thorough and implementing robust technologies and governance, we found this is achievable. If someone found an iPhone they would need the password and authentication code. Our third party email is fully encrypted – it’s not just a case of pressing an app icon and getting into our system.
We have created a dedicated mobile network within DLA Piper separate from the corporate network. This allows staff to come into any office and connect – I can register the IP address of my iPad, Mac etc, and it’s immediately recognised and usable throughout our locations.
We also created a Citrix cloud environment which is designed to replicate the desktop experience in the cloud. This allows staff out of the office to access their desktop on any device – I can be in the Airport, log into the Citrix system with an internet connection and work on my desktop, use my core apps and even desktop shortcuts.
We replaced a hard key fob identification with a soft token which automatically generates passkeys. This is preferable because hard key fobs are easy to lose and the new system allows staff to connect to their desktop through iPhone, Blackberry etc.
There are a few restrictions while working on the Citrix platform, but we are delivering approximately 80 per cent of the desktop functionality through the cloud. For a law firm, there are three core apps that we had to support via the cloud – email, document management and third party finance app for time recording – which we ensured were in place in the beginning.
What to support?
We make it very clear that if something goes wrong with a personal device, we support the DLA portion, but are not responsible for the device itself. The majority of the support teams already use Android and Apples devices and they are able to guide our people to get the best out of these technologies. A large number of the 9,500 DLA staff have not embraced these new devices, so support can continually push how to get the most out of them.
The flexibility of our service management tool, Supportworks from Hornbill, has been very helpful (for adding and supporting additional services). In future we plan to deploy remote control tools (potentially Bomgar in partnership with Hornbill) which will allow the IT department to fully support multiple personal devices and firm application support with them. We will continue to strive to provide more flexible and viable options for our business whilst ensuring support and security of these things are kept at a level the business also demands.
Advice for other service desks
Understand whether the business really needs BYOD. You hear people say they’d ‘like’ to use their own devices – you need something stronger than that. Our support team was fearful of BYOD and if we thought about the overhead of potentially expanding our support, maybe we wouldn’t have done it. But support volumes are not meaningfully larger than two years ago. If they have increased, it’s because people are more confident in contacting IT for help because they see we’ve tried to deliver what the staff want. We visited 5000 users when we carried out the refresh and got a clear view of what they wanted from IT - you don’t get that true customer feedback with surveys.