The term BYOD translates to Bring Your Own Device, which just means that employees bring their own technology into work instead of using company purchased desktop devices. Allowing employees to bring their own smart phones or tablets, to enable more employees to access corporate applications such as email and calendaring for “Anywhere Access.”
Technical wizardry is no longer a monopoly for the IT guru’s. “Computer-Geeks” are now everywhere, many of them have grown grow up with computers from birth and these workers want to be empowered to make their own tech choices; whether they are on the ‘approved’ list or not and regardless of whether the company is willing to pick up the bill!
Improved productivity and innovation: Employees are more likely to be comfortable using a personal device they are more familiar with, as they better understand its functionality, and this will improve productivity! It is worth noting that today many professionals consider their mobile phone to be more important than their morning coffee. Also, personal devices tend to be more cutting edge with users upgrading to the latest hardware more frequently; so the company can benefit from the latest product features.
Technological Fluency: We are all more fluent with our personal devices, they are rarely out of arm’s length and we use them all day every day. So insisting employees familiarise themselves with another device can be irritating and time consuming; BYOD takes this issue away as they are working on a device already suited to their needs that they already understand.
Flexibility: Work that could normally only be done in the office will be able to be done wherever, as employees have access to all of the data they need anywhere they want without being hindered by the usual office restrictions. This is particularly true since the increase in demand for cloud computing.
Cost Savings: BYOD programs sometimes save budget! This is NOT a guaranteed saving. But by shifting costs to the user, with employees paying for their own devices and data services, it may reduce the amount of costly devices the company needs to purchase. Breakages are likely to be reduced as people tend to take better care of their own belongings than they would with company owned devices and any repair costs will be the employee’s responsibility.
Device Disparities: When a company purchases new hardware for their employees it is normally tailored to the business needs; taking note of the desired technological features required for the purpose they are serving. However, with BYOD your employees are likely to have a whole plethora of devices, all with different capabilities and operating systems that run different programmes at different levels of quality. It is hard to get programmes that are of high quality but are also able to cover all platforms and realistic quality of devices, so this could cause issues. When a business could dictate its technology, it was always consistent. Standardised technology is cheaper to buy, maintain and connect. But with everyone connecting different smartphones, laptops, tablets and even home computers to the company network, it makes managing them very complicated.
Security: Companies all spend a very large amount of money on their security systems as they know that they can’t afford for their data to be leaked or risk picking up viruses. Employees however are unlikely to have this level of security. Standard security software can cover the day to day activities, but do you really want it as the last stand to threats to your valuable customer data. Also, it could be extremely difficult to restrict employees who are leaving the company from walking away with a significant amount of your data, easily stored on their own device.
Actual Cost: Employees may be reluctant to invest their own money. As mobile devices replace company-provided laptops, you may be expected to cover the cost for these new devices. Not everybody has an up to date mobile device or even want one, and may begrudge being told by the company that it is a requirement. Especially considering the average cost for these top of the range devices.
Acceptable Use Policy (AUP): The biggest problem you will likely face is more dramatically the operational and legal challenges which could be presented by the lack of an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which will need to account for BYOD. If your company doesn’t dictate an AUP, or if it doesn’t cover BYOD it will need to be introduced before anything is instigated.
So, should we panic and close the doors to the outside world? Not at all, despite all the fuss over BYOD, the world has not radically changed. The key to successful BYOD is a comprehensive policy and trusting your employees, if you can’t you have a much bigger worry than the devices they use.
One thing is very clear, the wider impact of consumerism for which BYOD is the headline trend, is being felt by IT organisations. The need for better mobile devices in the business environment is clear. The ability for employees to choose their own device (CYOD) is a desire that for most business users, is at the heart of BYOD. Regardless, this is not a quick fad, BYOD is here to stay; especially the increased use of smartphones and companion devices. However, it will also continue to evolve and mature. CYOD will start to emerge over the coming years, possibly not with the same level of fuss, but as a model that compliments both existing corporate provided devices and BYOD.
The key to successfully managing this advancement will be through to enabling employees to be more productive with mobile devices, whilst still maintaining the overall control. You should consider the benefits of providing better devices that meet the demands of employees but also enable consumerism of IT from within.