Many companies are finding the prospect of handing over hardware costs and reducing their IT staff extremely attractive, but is the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend really good for business? The short answer is that the ‘bring your own device’ trend is brilliant for morale and for business, but not always good for security. While housing your online databases, software and documents of import on the cloud should mean that you no longer need an IT department the size of a small African country, an increase in security breaches may mean you shouldn’t downsize just yet.
The glass is half full
Let’s examine the good things that the ‘bring your own device’ trend brings to the table. Employees often have more state-of-the-art electronic devices than their archaic desktops at work. Allowing them to participate in the ‘bring your own device’ party with wild abandon means that they get to use the most cutting edge technology for which you no longer have to foot the bill.
Your employees are happy because they get to use the ‘bring your own device’ trend as a reason to constantly update their electronics and they get to use the handheld devices they like best.
Having a plethora of BYOD options to choose from in the office makes your workforce leaner and meaner. For every situation, your employees will have a ‘bring your own device’ that fits the bill. It also means they get to spend less time in the office as they can work from anywhere.
‘Bring your own device’ also means that your employees have access to all the latest information no matter where in the world they find themselves. ‘Bring your own device’ also enables superior communication abilities with multimedia capabilities. This means when your employees are on the road, they can provide potential clients with the most up-to-date prices and quotes or pepper their sales pitches with videos, pictures and analytics that help to seal the deal.
The mobility that ‘bring your own device’ adds to your workforce means that telecommuting options will keep employees online when they are traveling, have sick kids at home or even when they are out of the office.
The glass is half empty
It’s precisely the mobility of the ‘bring your own device’ trend that is its greatest downfall. As employees spread out all over the place, they may be accessing vital company information on unsecured networks, leave their devices lying around in trains and bars (we’re looking at you iPhone developers!) or losing their ‘bring your own’ devices to thieves. What this adds up to is an IT nightmare with security breaches that could bring down a company or risk the confidential information of your clients.
While corporate espionage may be the most serious of the ‘bring your own device’ security breaches, employees are also exposing your company to threats such as spam, malware and phishing.
The biggest hurdle to creating an effective security net is that ‘bring your own’ devices are utilized for both personal interactions and professional endeavours. While IT gurus perfect security programs that are able to distinguish between personal and professional data on the same ‘bring your own’ device, it’s imperative that companies establish security protocols prior to introducing the ‘bring your own device’ trend.
“In addition to developing ways to separate corporate data from personal data, guidelines to help enterprises manage multiple mobile devices in the workplace are emerging: businesses are employing an agnostic operating system so employees can freely choose their own devices, providing remote wipe-and-locking capabilities to give IT departments control in case of loss or theft, stepping up and enhancing enforcement of password-protection procedures, offering over-the-air application installation, and updating and auditing devices to make management and upgrading easier.”
– Margaret Rock, Mobiledia
Overcoming security issues
While security does pose a problem for companies interested in implementing ‘bring your own device’ policies, it’s certainly not insurmountable. Being aware of the problem is half the battle won. Prior to giving the nod to a ‘bring your own device’ policy, companies need to establish a firm security policy to which all employees must adhere.
Training is vital to ensure that all employees who wish to participate know exactly what is expected of them. The company must also provide applications which allow ‘bring your own device’ participants to locate and wipe devices which have been lost or stolen.
Take a regular inventory of the handheld devices utilized by your employees so you can keep track of who is using what and where. These records must be regularly updated every time a new handheld device is added or removed from the pool.
When it comes to security, creating policies and putting contingency plans in place is essential. This will mean that implementing a ‘bring your own device’ policy really will save you money and enable you to reduce the size of your IT department.