Have you noticed how many of us in the workplace are using our own tablets, phablets and smart devices to manage our day to day work loads?
Meeting with a client recently, I was knocked out by the sheer numbers of employees working on tablets, iPads and smartphone devices as we passed through the various departments en route to the customer’s office.
When we sat down I couldn’t help but ask the question, ‘do you have a BYOD policy in place?’
He looked at me puzzled, ‘what do you mean, like an I.T. systems processes and security document or policy? I don’t think so came the reply, why would we need that for people who bring their own gizmos in to the office?’
Which lead me very nicely to this week’s article.
What is BYOD?
Bring your own device, (BYOT) bring your own technology, (BYOP) bring your own phone and (BYOPC) bring your own pc refers to the policy of allowing employees to bring their own personal mobile devices – laptops, tablets and smart phones to the work place and use them to access privileged company information and applications.
BYOD is having a significant impact in the business world and in countries like Brazil and Russia 75% and 44% in developed countries are already using their own devices in the workplace.
BYOD became prominent in 2009 when Intel commercially recognised the rise of employees bringing their own devices into work and connecting to their corporate network. BYOD gained momentum in 2011 when I.T. services provider Unisys and software vendors VMware and Citrix Systems shared their understanding of the future impact of the BYOD trend.
With emerging technologies and the growth trend in smart phone and mobile devices, I.T. departments have their hands full trying to keep on top of technology changes let alone implementing a BYOD security policy.
Employees are increasingly wanting to use their own devices to access corporate data in the work and at home empowering workforces to work on any device of their choosing accessing corporate emails from iPhones or view and edit documents on a tablet.
Organisations view this as part of the evolution of their workforce allowing employees to infuse their work load with their own technology.
What about security and the very infrastructure of an organisation’s I.T.?
BYOD is ‘enabling’ employees but this flexibility could jeopardise a company’s I.T. security if it is not regulated.
Why has BYOD risen to prominence?
Many of us already own a laptop, a smartphone or tablet. We use this technology readily in our homes whether it is accessing work related documents or for our own pleasure and we use it socially, it seems only natural to take our own devices into the workplace and use them there as well.
Familiarity with the device makes it easier to access and retrieve information and with time constraints speed and efficiency is key to our work-life balance.
These devices are newer and more advanced than those deployed by I.T. departments and the adoption of ultra lightweight notebooks, chrome books, iPads and large screen phones are having a major effect on the way people work.
Isn’t it safe for I.T. departments to refuse the use of BYOD?
What are the advantages of BYOD?
The advantages of a BYOD strategy include employee satisfaction enabling employees to work more flexibly.
There are also the cost savings for the company by not having to provide hardware, software licensing and device maintenance or funding a second device.
Employees are happier and and work faster because they are familiar with their device and are more likely to up date their device more frequently than those funded by a company.
Employees have invested in technology they want to use, it also means that employees don’t have to look after two devices increasing the risk of security mishaps.
Cost savings are negligible because the cost of purchasing the device has shifted to the employee who is also likely to be responsible for data service charges as well.
What are the disadvantages of BYOD?
Businesses need to consider the wider picture of allowing employees access to corporate data on personal devices where they have little or no control.
BYOD raises these issues like what data can employees access and what security measures are in place if an employee’s own device is lost or stolen?
Security and the loss of devices with limited password protection can increase the risk of threats from unauthorised intrusion from hackers and viruses.
Some employees will be unwilling to use their own devices or invest their own money in technology. With mobile devices replacing company provided laptops employees will expect their employer to bear the cost of the new devices.
Companies need to be able to have the resources in place to support BYOD safely and operate a meaningful BYOD security policy.
They may even have to support a private appstore for maximum control.
Although some of the costs are negated by hardware spend being reduced, it could end up costing more for a company to integrate and support too diverse a range of devices – think IOS and Android operating systems, the latter having a number of different versions of the operating system.
Companies will have little say over what and how employees will use their own devices.
Whether a company plans for it or not the best scenario is the implementation of approved hardware and software applications giving I.T. retention over how and what gets printed or accessed from personally owned devices.