The continuing growth of the digital age has forever changed the ways of conducting business, with the most current evolution focusing on the BYOD – bring your own device – trend. Traditionally, businesses equipped their offices with their own network of computers, however, since word of BYOD and its benefits has spread, businesses are beginning to reevaluate this model. Recently, Juniper Research released a study predicting that the current 150 million employee-owned devices on the job are expected to more than double by 2014.
Companies, such as Intel, Kraft, IBM, and Whirlpool, that were quick to implement BYOD policies, have already begun to reap the benefits. These companies are witnessing a reduction in costs and an increase in their competitive advantage. While benefits are not witnessed immediately, the savings over time can be expected to increase steadily if the polices are implemented correctly. For example, the company will not be financially responsible for to purchase or maintain new machines, that cost is passed on to the employee. In addition, employees will tend to become more acquainted with the intricacies of their devices, and therefore need less assistance from the IT department for simple fixes. For firms that implement BYOD and still use office computers as well, it will reduce the wear on the office systems and increase their life, so long as they don’t become obsolete.
Aside from strictly financial benefits, BYOD will also help individual employees. BYOD is expected to increase job-related happiness, simply because people just prefer to use one device rather than splitting up their work between multiple devices. Furthermore, it is easier and less frustrating for the user to learn and work one device rather than two. Employees using their own devices are also likely to have increased productivity as they will have the freedom to work at their most productive times of the day, and even on the go.
While BYOD appears like a great choice because it provides increased employee productivity and decreased costs, the downsides of it must also be thoroughly considered before devising an implementation strategy. The most glaring downside of this is the huge threat it poses to the firm’s security. With employees all using private devices with different configurations, accessing sensitive company information on a corporate network, this could be a potential nightmare for IT security personnel. Another potential issue would be employees, who no longer work with a company, can continue to access information on their respective devices, or contain information necessary for an audit on their personal computers.
These security risks can be countered by establishing the proper BYOD protocol. First and foremost, companies that wish to make the switch to BYOD must work with their Legal and Human Resource departments to build policies for BYOD. If there are not policies in place from the beginning (such as sites deemed trustworthy for app download), security will be compromised. IT can also use network management tools to block untrusted apps, control access levels and remotely erase data from compromised devices. However, firms must be careful not to apply excessive controls or it may undermine the usefulness of BYOD and its contribution to employee satisfaction.
Employers putting BYOD into action must also educate employees on the new system. It is crucial to keep all employees informed of the proper protocol and how to use their devices within the corporate network. Employees should be instructed to password protect all devices and try to operate on them without actually running the programs or storing documents and data on the physical device. This technology should be used especially whenever sensitive corporate information needs to be accessed, as it is crucial never to store this type of information locally. Data should also be encapsulated and backed up frequently; if devices are stolen or compromised in any way they must also be able to be wiped remotely.
BYOD can certainly be exciting and beneficial to businesses, but in order to pull it off successfully all people involved must be informed from the start!
About the Author
This blog post was written by Jason who works at a cyber security training company named Phoenix TS.