What is BYOD and Why Should Businesses Pay Attention?
What is BYOD?
Short for ‘Bring Your Own Device’, BYOD is an acronym that refers to the practice of permitting employees to bring their own mobile devices to work for the purpose of using them with company systems, software, networks, or data.
BYOD has grown exponentially in the workplace, with almost a third of employees using their own devices in companies across the world. While BYOD has many attractive benefits (like a boost in productivity along with a reduction in IT and operating spend, plus better mobility for workers) those benefits come with risks. An increased cyber security risk, BYOD can lead to data breaches and cyber security compromises.
Why should businesses pay attention to BYOD?
The reason for BYOD is simple. Most individuals these days already own and use their own personal laptops, tablets and smartphones – where companies provide equipment that is not to employee’s liking (for example, a company might only provide Windows-based laptops, while the employee has a preference for Mac) or the equipment is older than what they personally have – employees would prefer to bring and use their own devices.
As tablet computers and smartphones become more powerful, they have enabled a new way of working. Inspiring mobile productivity, employees can get so much more done on a machine that they are comfortable with using. Despite the fact that BYOD has been a topic of discussion for at least five years, some IT departments are still playing catch-up, and others are toying with the idea of refusing to tolerate BYOD, thinking that it’s simpler to supply approved hardware and software in order to retain full control and maintain IT security.
Businesses need to realise (and accept) that BYOD is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Where companies are not prepared to issue employees with up-to-date technology that meets with the worker’s requirement, trying to prevent BYOD will be a futile exercise. The best thing for any organisation to do is to be aware of the benefits, embrace the advantages that come from BYOD and understand the risks, in order to effectively minimise them.
The plus side of BYOD: Benefits and Advantages
The biggest advantages to running with a BYOD policy include:
- Increased employee satisfaction – they can work flexibly, using equipment that they are already familiar and comfortable with
- Cost savings – reduced hardware spend, software licensing and device maintenance
- Productivity gains – employees are happier and often work faster using their own technology
- Enabling employees to securely access business data on their own devices will lead to a natural increase in productivity.
However, for a company to decide if a BYOD strategy would work for them, it’s important to due diligence is conducted by evaluating the benefits against the risks.
The downside of BYOD: Risks and Disadvantages
Before you decide to jump on the BYOD bandwagon, envisaging all the money your company will save, not having to fund a second mobile device for employees, you’ll need to consider the full implications of allowing business data to be accessed on personal devices that your IT deparment has little or no control over.
This means critically examining:
1. What data should employees have access to?
2. What cyber security measures will you need to put in place to counter the risks that come from an employee’s device being lost, stolen or otherwise compromised?
It is at this point that the convenience and lure of BYOD starts to clash with cyber security. Security and the loss of devices that have limited password protection is a massive worry, which means that now companies have to worry about the safety of devices that do not belong to the business.
Furthermore, the cost savings of BYOD are not what they seem. Even though IT hardware spend can be reduced by BYOD, it might cost your business more to actually integrate and support a wide range of outside devices. This is especially the case where devices are Android-based, because there are so many different variations of this operating system.
What’s riskier, however, is not having any BYOD policy in place. Turning a blind eye to BYOD is not advisable – companies need to recognise that ignoring the issue could open them up to data breaches and reputational damage. It’s better to address the issue head-on.