BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device (to work) is the latest evolution in the consumerization of IT. IT is shifting in focus from the technology itself to the user experience it provides. Monica Basso, Research VP at Gartner Inc., is predicting that “90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices” by 2014. 2014!!!
Employees want to use the latest greatest mobile or tablet device, so why not let them use their own? Ah, the proverbial loaded question! Like any hot topic, there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation—for employers and employees alike.
Let’s look at the pros first. From an employee standpoint, they are typically going to have newer technology in their hands with BYOD. They will also be using a device of their own choosing, and one they are more intrinsically familiar with—their own. As many of us work remotely or travel from meeting to meeting, having our own device for work and play simplifies things and streamlines work—be it just having one device to keep up with instead of multiple or being able to shift gears from work to home easier. How many of us work at home in the evenings? Having all your applications and documents on your tablet already is definitely a plus.
From an employer standpoint, BYOD can considerably reduce costs. Not only is the burden to purchase devices shifted to the employee, but as these devised are all wireless, infrastructure costs can decrease as well. Let’s face it: there is a lot less Cat5 cable being laid at workplaces these days. Employees are going to be more productive with a device they know, which is a benchmark goal of IT in the workplace, and employers enjoy lower costs for technology operations and increased employee productivity.
And now for the cons: truthfully, there isn’t much of a downside for employees. The main drawback is that you are opening your personal device for professional scrutiny. Your device selection may also be limited by application functionality, and remember that you will be responsible for paying the bills and maintaining the device—your employer will not cover a lost phone, for example. As not all devices are created equal, you will also want to do your homework before purchasing a device to make sure the applications you need to use in the workplace will work on the device.
For employers, the issue is much more complicated. Mobile devices can’t be locked down to level that company-owned devices can without seriously compromising user experience. Doing company work on a personal device prompts other questions, too: if an employee is working on their own device, to whom does intellectual property belong? What is the security risk to the company? What happens if the device is lost with company data on it? Is the company’s IT department responsible for supporting these devices? What kind of demand does that put on what is arguably already the most overworked department in the company? What parameters should be put in place regarding support?
The cons are all considerations that must be taken into account with developing a BYOD strategy for your company. Policies must be put in place to secure corporate data, minimize support costs, and preserve the native user experience. Support and remediation options must be clearly defined. Security risks can be minimized by setting a tiered policy with respect to access and privacy.
NetStandard offers strategy and support for developing a BYOD policy as part of our Clarity Managed Service Offering. Give us a call today to see how we can help you develop your BYOD strategy.