BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is a trend that’s currently going upwards in the marketplace. As the consumerization of IT becomes more prevalent through the long reach of smart mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks and laptops, BYOD has become a new reality that every business, from the largest to the smallest, must face up to and deal with.
BYOD has its roots in users becoming more independent in the way they use technology and access information. Previously, IT departments within companies handled a lot of how this was facilitated and accomplished. Companies issued standard IT equipment to employees and everyone accessed information in more or less the same way.
As smart devices proliferated, however, employees began crossing or merging that divide between work and play, office and home. The result is employees with powerful devices capable of carrying out work-related tasks but that are also switched to personal use at the flick of a finger. If your company uses IT in any way, this is an issue you need to address and formalize as soon as possible.
In order to harness this new trend, take advantage of its perks and minimize its drawbacks, you first need to explore the advantages and disadvantages of BYOD.
Employees who are able to bring their own devices to work have been shown to be more motivated and to view their companies as more progressive IT-wise. Additionally, BYOD also extends employee work output (productivity) inadvertently because there is a possibility they will work from home when they carry their devices home. BYOD also translates into cost savings for the company as employees absorb the cost of purchasing new equipment.
For employees working in a BYOD-favorable environment, there is the added advantage of having just one device, as opposed to two, which translates into easier transitions between work and life. BYOD has also been shown to keep companies at the cutting edge of technology, which means the company does not have to invest heavily in technology refreshes ever so often.
BYOD also has quite a few issues that may need additional input from the IT department and management. The most prevalent issue is security. Because the devices belong to employees and are bought personally, the company may not have a say in the sort of security features these devices have. Moreover, personal devices are always subject to personal tampering so there is hardly any guarantee that whatever security measures are put in place will remain in place.
Other issues that arise are lack of IT infrastructure to manage all the diverse mobile devices employees show up with, the conflict of interest that arises when an employee leaves with their device, which holds a good amount of company information such as phone numbers, email addresses and so on, customers calling personal numbers even after the employee has left the company and so on. These are issues that must be tackled in a comprehensive BYOD policy, something most companies lack as well.
So should you allow BYOD and if so, how should you approach it? Here are five important things to keep in mind:
- Does BYOD increase the overall benefit to your company or not? This is an important question to ask because BYOD should not be allowed simply on face value merit; there must be business sense in allowing it.
- Draft a comprehensive BYOD policy for employees to sign. This covers your company’s interests as well as ensures everyone know what expectations exist of the practice.
- If you have an IT department, invest in the necessary infrastructure to manage employee devices. This ensures there are no surprises when you finally allow BYOD.
- Develop an organization-level BYOD security policy. This policy should encompass everything from the type of devices to use, to the sort of networks to use, to the sort of security measures employees should undertake if they choose BYOD.
- Lastly, there must be sufficient stakeholder buy-in. If any department or management has not bought into BYOD, it’s better to shelve it for the short-term. BYOD is a novel approach to organization IT infrastructure that may or may not work seamlessly. If everyone isn’t on board, there may be a lot of finger pointing down the line.
Some companies thrive with BYOD while others struggle. Making sure BYOD is right for your company is the difference between harnessing the advantages and suffering the attendant issues.