One of the biggest buzzwords in business these days is BYOD - Bring Your Own Device - and for good reason. There are plenty of operational benefits that an organization can enjoy by adopting a BYOD policy; but, BYOD isn’t an inherently perfect solution, which means that businesses that leverage it need to do so mindfully.
To begin, let’s briefly review the basic principles of BYOD practices. In essence, rather than providing each employee with a company-supplied device, an employee is allowed to bring in a device that they own and leverage it for work purposes.
On the surface, BYOD seems to be the perfect solution - there are even statistics that help to support this position. For instance, companies who embrace BYOD practices save around $350 each year, per employee. Furthermore, using portable devices for work (much like what would be used as part of a Bring Your Own Device practice) has been shown to save employees approximately an hour each day, increasing their productivity by about a third.
This is just the tip of the BYOD-benefits iceberg. There are much more, including:
If you were to list any business’ technology priorities, security and productivity should top the list… but oftentimes, frugality wins the day. Budgetary restrictions and a preference for tried-and-tested solutions frequently means that investments into more recent solutions are often pushed by the wayside. After all, what if the expensive new technology doesn’t work properly? This is frequently why businesses find themselves making due with solutions that really should be replaced. On the other hand, employees likely have no such qualms when they purchase their own devices.
BYOD policies allow a business’ employees to replace their outdated solutions with the reliability of newer, more up-to-date devices… leading to happier, more productive employees.
Like we mentioned, it is fairly common for budgetary concerns to be the driving factor of many business decisions. It isn’t that the company doesn’t want to replace the aging workstations scattered around the office… it just isn’t in the budget. Before Bring Your Own Device emerged, businesses were stuck in a few different money pits. Between providing their employees with devices, maintaining and replacing these devices when they went faulty, and all the other expenses that come from keeping up an IT infrastructure, employers were stuck with a hefty bill.
Nowadays, with many people investing in their own devices and their accessibility, these expenses can largely evaporate. The employer’s investment can be effectively limited to securing access to these devices, allowing funds to be spent on other meaningful initiatives.
We’ve all experienced the struggle of trying to do work on equipment that just isn’t equipped for what we are trying to do. It can feel like trying to play Yahtzee with loaded dice - it just isn’t going to work, no matter how much effort is put forth. This is the other side of the example that preceded this one. If the aging workstations scattered around the office aren’t replaced due to budgetary concerns, some employees are going to be stuck using them… and they aren’t going to be happy.
As we alluded to as we described the effects that access to improved solutions can bring, an employee who isn’t being hamstrung by their technology is simply going to be more productive and happier with their working situation.
Clearly, BYOD isn’t something that should be dismissed without at least some consideration, but that isn’t to say that it is a perfect solution. There are also potential issues that need to be addressed as a BYOD policy is considered.
For every productivity application available on the Google Play Store, there is at least one application that is decidedly unproductive… at least, in terms of your business and its operations. While you could take steps to prevent these kinds of applications from appearing on devices that you provide, there isn’t much you can do about your employees downloading whatever they want onto their own.
This is a big issue for businesses, as there are a multitude of ways that their losing control over the devices on their network could impact them. The policies that once prevented vulnerabilities from being leveraged can’t just be installed on an employee’s device without their consent, which many employees may be hesitant to give. This problem becomes even larger if an employee is fired or quits - what happens to the data on their device? How can a company be sure that a current employee isn’t putting sensitive company data at risk? What if the device is lost?
Finally, you have to consider how your BYOD implementation will interact with any other compliances or requirements that your business is beholden to. In the past, a shockingly low number of IT leaders and professionals were confident that their BYOD policies met the standards placed by a variety of requirements, including HIPAA and Dodd-Frank.
Fortunately, there are a few means of adopting a BYOD approach within your business while mitigating the concerns described above. The simplest way is to simply enforce a use policy, outlining the guidelines that your employees must follow if they wish to use their personal devices for work purposes.
i-medIT can help you to create and enforce these guidelines, as well as optimize your use of your IT in many other ways. To learn more, reach out to our team by calling 630-549-6199.