BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a growing trend across many business sectors. In a BYOD setting, employees use their own smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other portable electronic device(s) for work applications. In one recent Cisco study, 95% of all those who participated in the study indicated that they allow employees to use their own devices at work. In addition, the number of devices a worker uses throughout the workday is increasing to over three devices per employee. Evolving alongside increasingly effective smart phone and tablet technology over the last several years, the BYOD trend does not come without workplace controversy and policy challenges.
On one hand, employees are generally more comfortable and productive on technology that they’ve customized for personal preferences. At the same time, the entire concept of BYOD brings with it cybersecurity considerations and potential IT headaches. According to the Cisco report, a company can save from $300 to more than $1,000 per employee by allowing a BYOD policy. While BYOD has the potential to increase employee productivity, it also means that employees need to agree to certain company policies and safeguards. Security concerns were the number one drawback executives reported regarding a BYOD environment.
Among commonly required company safeguards, an employee generally agrees to allow the company’s IT department to install, update, and control certain security software on the employee’s device, including the ability to wipe it entirely should the employee leave the company voluntarily or otherwise. Companies save cost on the purchase of the physical device, but may incur costs of software, hardware, training and cloud services necessary to coordinate, maintain and secure multiple devices per user. Where there are compatibility glitches, additional costs to bring everybody on board may also play a factor in making the BYOD transition. Overall, the company saves money and the employee gains greater flexibility in device usage.
Increased ease of collaboration, rapid customer/client response time and employee satisfaction are among the benefits of the BYOD. These benefits can translate directly into leveraging the competitive edge and increasing company profitability. For tech-savvy executives who have the knowledge and resilience to build a BYOD-friendly workplace while balancing the security concerns and logistical considerations of the IT department, BYOD offers positive return-on-investment (ROI).
However, along with the security considerations of multiple users sharing files across a wide variety of devices and applications, also comes the logistical concerns of compatibility and ease of access from device to device.
While some companies tend to favor certain devices, others employ BYOD software management with experience across a wide array of devices and platforms. Some companies have specific experience with addressing international challenges and related challenges regarding diverse network configurations. Overall though, for smaller companies, the IT department and division executives are usually the ones rolling out guidelines and responding to emergent issues.
Where employees are already tech-savvy and intrinsically understand the importance of regularly updating security software and creating sophisticated passwords, the transition may be easier to orchestrate. In other companies, additional employee training, or an incentive plan to bring everybody up-to-date with the most current technology is a wise investment to ensure a safe and effective BYOD workplace.
With so many stakeholders involved in the adaptation of BYOD, many of the Internet discussions about this trend can be lively and complex. For executives seeking to edge ahead of the competition by offering more immediate and interactive team response to clients, the transition to BYOD can be interpreted as a necessity.
For IT executives charged with ensuring company security over devices that are literally housed anywhere, a BYOD transition may look like a looming nightmare. As best practice safeguards emerge and more companies work with software management and security consultants to mitigate common challenges, BYOD environments are expected to grow in popularity.
From general project managers, to IT leaders, to IS security managers and HR team leaders, a working knowledge of current BYOD leadership strategies is essential to maintain and promote safe, secure, positive and productive workplaces. Understanding and balancing employee needs with company security concerns is an important skill set to have as more companies move toward a BYOD environment.
Since the movement toward BYOD workplaces is likely here to stay, proactively creating smart policies and flexible guidelines can help maximize the profitability while minimizing the risks of such an important shift in corporate culture.