The ‘Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)‘ policy that is gaining a lot of traction in the corporate world and educational sphere alike, is one of the key considerations in employee satisfaction these days. This policy does not chain employees to use company issued devices, but frees them to bring their personal laptops, tablets and smartphones to the workplace and access company data and applications in a secure way. Let us delve into the growth of this policy and the challenges faced while giving employees their freedom.
BYOD is a quite recent trend and has gained a lot of momentum in a short span of time. It was born out of the consequence of powerful iOS and Android backed smartphones that took the market by storm. These smartphones were far superior to the Blackberry phones that were in use in the corporate world at that time. Due to this, most people started carrying two phones with them, but there was always a need to connect to company data with personal smartphones. Enter BYOD, a solution that enabled employees to bring their own devices to work, while allowing them to access company data in a secure manner. Even though BYOD encompasses tablets and laptops too, it is primarily used for smartphones.
As with any new technology, there are both pros and cons to this solution. Looking at the bright side, companies can benefit by shifting the cost to the users. They don’t have to invest in procuring new hardware for the employees to take advantage of working from home; instead, employees can use their existing smartphones, layered with company security and data. This is particularly of use for small and medium businesses which look to cut costs as far as possible. The second and more advantageous benefit is that of employee satisfaction. Employees are more likely to invest in good smartphones with their money and they also take better care of their devices because they own them. They would rather use devices that they like, rather than being stuck with IT issued hardware. Employees also upgrade their phones and OSes more regularly than the IT cycles which might take considerable amount of time. Productivity may also rise due to the fact that employees use devices that they love and are accustomed to. In fact, about 40% of the employees consider that it is important to be able to use personal devices at work.
BYOD brings its share of concerns, especially for the IT department of a company. By embracing BYOD, companies lose a lot of control over the IT hardware and how it is used. It becomes difficult to tell the employees about ‘acceptable use cases’ for their own devices. Using external software for BYOD might be somewhat of a deterrent for IT, who would want to have things in their own control. Additionally, the data transferred to, or present on the devices of employees is vulnerable to security threats. In the event of loss or theft of the smartphone, retrieving company data is of paramount importance. Some organizations pay the entire phone bill of their employees, including data charges. With BYOD, it would become difficult to track if phone calls were used for personal or business use, due to which, organizations might stop footing the phone bills. This policy depends on the particular organization implementing BYOD.
But with the latest advancements in technology, especially tackling the security issue of BYOD, many of the concerns have been allayed. Most networking stalwarts offer competitive BYOD solutions that corporates can take advantage of. BYOD solutions now incorporate remote wiping of data that can be used in case of loss or theft. In addition, solutions are cross platform, supporting major operating systems like iOS, Android and Windows.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) allows organizations to create apps that they can encrypt and control as necessary. These apps don’t interact with other apps on the smartphone, while also not allowing any other app to interact with it. This cocoons the company data from outside threat. Some of the popular BYOD software include solutions from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, Symantec and also other smaller companies. Samsung has come out with its Knox, which is an android specific BYOD solution. Recently, even the pentagon cleared Blackberry and Samsung devices to be used to access its networks.
BYOD in India:
A 2012 survey by Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) revealed that India was most resistant to BYOD, with almost 46% of Indian enterprises prohibiting the use of personal mobile devices for work. Earlier, India wasn’t too keen with BYOD due to the high cost of smartphones. But today, with low end smartphones also arriving on the Indian shore, employees are pretty upbeat about BYOD. Lot of small and medium scale businesses also encourage BYOD and they feel the ease of use far outweigh the security concerns. But there is still a lot of resistance from most companies regarding BYOD. It is necessary to implement standardized policies and conduct training sessions to clear the doubts of both the employers and employees regarding BYOD.
A Gartner report states that more and more corporates are set to embrace BYOD, so it only seems natural to ramp up operations and support BYOD in full swing. Does your organization support BYOD? Do you face any problems, if any, because of BYOD? If you’re in the leadership team of a company, do you plan to introduce BYOD? Do let us know in the comments.
Here’s an infographic which has more information on BYOD.
Infographic Source | Online Colleges
Image Courtesy | Securedgenetworks