The BYOD (bring your own device) trend has been picking up steam in recent years, so much so that by some estimates, upwards of 70 percent of U.S. companies either allow or embrace BYOD activity. BYOD can include anything from an employee’s personal smartphone to a notebook PC.
BYOD goes beyond just allowing employees to bring personal devices into the workplace; it’s also a way to increase productivity and flexibility. Here are a few of the opportunities and challenges to consider if your business is thinking about adopting BYOD.
Because BYOD means that employees are using devices they have chosen and are familiar with – rather than a device chosen by IT – those employees will be more comfortable with a mobile device or computer. That, in turn, makes them more productive, since they know the device. Employees also may invest in more cutting-edge technology than what an IT department would hand them, which can translate to more frequent upgrades to the latest hardware.
Giving employees the option to access company data on their own devices can also increase flexibility and overall satisfaction.
There may be a cost-saving component for businesses, as well, in the form of device purchase and maintenance, and smaller hardware costs.
The flip side of personal devices accessing company data is the security implication. Hackers, viruses, or loss of a device can all pose a threat to corporate data via a personal device with limited password protection.
“The borders that traditionally protected companies are now more porous because people are bringing their phones from homes to work every day,” Jeremy Linden, security product manager at Lookout, told Information Week.
Just as there’s a potential for cost savings, there’s also a potential for increased costs around BYOD. Integrating and supporting a wide range of devices, and potentially investing in additional enterprise software or service licensing in order to make BYOD work well, all involve costs.
What Companies Can Do To Make BYOD Work
Rather than just allowing it to happen, businesses should develop a plan and clear policy around BYOD in order to make it effective.
That can start with a pilot program to evaluate BYOD, and to get input from more than just IT. BYOD has legal and human resource implications, too, and companies should involve those departments.
The next step should be to consider security. Device-level security isn’t enough; investing in management and security technology may be something businesses should consider in order to have some control over devices that are connecting to company networks, apps and data. Companies like Dell and IBM offer solutions to manage BYOD.
Businesses and organizations will also need to make sure all employees understand what data can be accessed, and by which devices, in order to minimize the risk of data breaches. Making rules up front and providing training will help ensure that employees understand the risks and the rules.
image via Creative Commons
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