The New World of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) -- Good for Your Company?
BYOD is a concept that is rapidly gaining steam throughout the IT business industry. By “gaining steam” I mean two things. It could reference the cartoon-like explosion of hot gaseous vapor from a person’s ears due to incessant aggravation; or it could simply be defined as an increase in positive momentum. The notion is rudimentary and obvious, almost intuitive: Should employees utilize their personal devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) to complete work-related tasks while on the clock? Though the idea may be basic, the answer is a bit more complicated.
In 2007, the late Steve Jobs unveiled his revolutionary iPhone. This inaugural device was really the catalyst behind the BYOD idea. It seemed almost irresponsible not to use a single piece of technology that encompassed an array of telecommunication, broadband, and file sharing capabilities in the office, if that office didn’t provide one already.
Where people seem to be misinformed, however, is in the more subtle and nitty-gritty details. So it doesn’t matter which rung of the corporate ladder you are, or aspire to be, on, there can be a number of advantages and disadvantages for your company by B-ingYOD.
Depending on whether you’re a business owner or a devoted worker, the advantages can be different but only slightly depending on your status in the company. Nevertheless, an advantage is an advantage.
Bringing your own device to work can save the company a significant amount of money by shifting all costs and expenses to the user. The premise here is that staff members can use the device they feel comfortable with, as long as they’re responsible for various apps that are likely to be operated through the device. This leads into another benefit: Satisfaction. Employee satisfaction and optimism is what helps make a business run smoothly. It also makes the work environment less stale and dreary. A good way to counter a stagnant office-atmosphere is by allowing employees to use the devices that they’ve selected with steadfast precision and poignant conviction. It allows the user to engage in a device that he/she is comfortable with, without the tediousness of learning the efficient ins-and-outs of a new one.
It’s also more likely that a single user will upgrade their device more often for themselves than a company will for everybody, though company size is usually a factor. When a person upgrades, they replace their contemporary—in some cases, obsolete—device for the latest version. The latest gadgets and operating systems are also running the latest apps. A company whose employees are constantly upgrading is a progressive company that stays on the cutting-edge. That progressive mentality can also trickle down into all nooks in the company, keeping it a modern and innovative machine.
Probably one of the most overlooked advantages to BYOD is that it allows for a little bit of personalization in what can be a monotonous office. Allowing employees to customize even the smallest facet of the company can be like grabbing them by their lapels, yanking them out of their cubicle, and dropping them in a remote oasis of personal expression.
Though BYOD can be beneficial to a company and its employees, in some cases it comes up short in creating an energetic office atmosphere synonymous with BYOD’s slightly more risqué acronym cousin, BYOB.
A large amount of discrepancy with BYOD has to do with privacy and infrastructure. It’s not uncommon for companies to implement an “acceptable use” policy in order to keep efficiency at a capable level. But this poses an awkward situation between supervisors and subordinates, in which supervisors are telling users what they can and cannot look at on their own device.
The possibility of awkwardness doesn’t end there. In a BYOD culture, employees still have the risk of termination. So, what happens when an employee is fired and they still possess company information saved on their device? That is a question that only a company and its employees can answer. If your company is BYOD, make sure you have a policy in place that allows you to retain any sensitive information you wish to remain undisclosed.
Many companies are also trying to become compliant with regulations such as 201 CMR 17.00 and HIPAA in order to maintain the maximum possible security measures in the cloud. In order for BYOD to run with ease, the device of choice by any user must be compliant with the company’s security and infrastructure. If it isn’t, the user not only puts his/her personal data at risk of hackers and 3rd party vendors, but he/she can also be responsible for compromising their company’s secure data too. In a similar situation, an employee who is terminated might have had access to secure materials through specific clearances. Though that employee may not have company information saved to their personal device, they may have passwords, key rotations, and authentications saved to their device of which they could access company data.
Though bringing your own device may help to deter many capital costs, it can sometimes prove to be just the opposite. Employees will often take their technical issues or complaints to the IT department. This hinders the company in two ways, by distracting the employee from doing their work when they’re focused on their device, and by preventing the IT department from doing profitable work and not having to stop every time someone can’t connect to the internet.
The cloud can be a major factor in deciding whether or not to exploit BYOD. For example, small companies could benefit from using virtual desktops that operate in the cloud. Rather than selecting, owning, and managing the requisite physical hardware, a cloud-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) has the ability to centralize all IT resources for user convenience. It also allows for the possibility to access any work assignment from anywhere with a stable Internet connection. Just as important to the user, a virtualized DaaS can be reached via almost any personal device of his/her choosing, further allowing for customization and personal comfort.
Cloud based systems such as Virtual Desktops can also help negate many of the potential disadvantages of BYOD workplace discussed above.
For example, Virtual Desktops enable sensitize data to remain in the company’s control, a worker using their own device actually logs in to a remote virtual desktop that the company hosts. If a worker is terminated in a BYOD environment, all that remains when they leave is their personal data, this security advantage is also applicable in cases of device loss or theft.
Another factor to consider is compliance. Encryption, physical security and back-up redundancy are many of the underlying factors that FINRA, HIPAA and even state regulations such as 201 CMR 17 consider. Most cloud-based systems rely on high-level encryption and have redundant layers backup for discovery purposes or disaster recovery. Additionally, since super-secure data centers house the servers, data is physically protected at an enterprise level.
There’s no doubt that the idea of BYOD has generated a significant amount of discussion and is relentlessly gaining steam. It’s quickly evolving from being a trend to being a mainstay in the business world. As with any major decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons against the type of business you have or work for. In some cases, it may create and unfair office-culture in which some people have a 16GB iPad and some and some are using their duct taped flip phone. In other cases, though, it may boost productivity tenfold by increasing morale. Be sure to evaluate your company or employees in order to make the decision that’s best for both.
Image borrowed from: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2012/04/how-start-byod-program