BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) policies are becoming more and more widespread in businesses of every size and type.
Some companies, however, might have concerns. These could be over how to keep data secure; the possibility of viruses and malware finding their way on to business computer systems; or even worries about productivity as employees use their own devices.
Introducing personally owned devices – smartphones, laptops and tablets being the main ones, into the workplace can provide a number of positive benefits to the business and may, in time, boost productivity and save the company money.
BYOD Offers Flexibility
With the seemingly unstoppable rise of smart phones and tablets has come the ability to perform any number of tasks right from the user’s device.
Connectivity across a number of platforms – text, email, voice, and video enables the user massive amounts of connectivity and flexibility, no matter where they are or what time it is. The relatively small size of tablets, able to fit inside a satchel or briefcase and consuming no more space than a book, makes for great portability when on the move.
However, in spite of all of the benefits of tablets and smartphones, there are still certain tasks in which they do not excel.
For example, creating and typing a large word document is not easy on tablet, with a smart phone providing an even bigger challenge. Tasks involving large amounts of data input or management are simply better suited to a PC.
This is the key to a BYOD policy – there will always be a mixture between worker’s own devices and laptops or PCs. Success comes from recognising that it is not a case of ‘one or the other’, and offering flexibility to workers so that they can use the tools they need in any given circumstance.
· BYOD offers connectivity across a number of platforms whilst on the move
· Personal devices offer convenience and flexibility
· The best BYOD policies understand that workers need the best tools for the task at hand
· BYOD is not a case of ‘One or the other’ – work and personal devices can happily co-exist
A BYOD policy can vary greatly from business to business, as there are any number of factors that inform policy.
What is essential is that the rules around BYOD are clear and informative. There should not be any doubts about which devices are acceptable to use and which are not. Similarly, if certain members of the business use their own devices, then there should be clear guidelines about why.
Something that every business should do to create a good, concise policy is consult various areas of the business. This should obviously include IT and including Human Resources and Finance is a good idea. Talking to various departments and understanding the impact on every part of the business will lead to a tailored, thought-out policy, rather than a policy that ends up costing the business more than it gains.
· There are many factors to creating a good, workable BYOD policy
· Guidelines about usage need clear definition and reasoning
· Consulting every part of the business will mean a cohesive, sensible policy
Many IT departments worry that instituting a BYOD policy will lead to anarchy. They might have legitimate concerns about how to manage and secure rafts of different devices, without even going into protecting business and customer data.
However, by laying out a clear strategy of implementation and management, do’s and do not’s, there is no reason that an IT department cannot manage worker’s devices and keep them safe. By using a few different measures, a business can gain all the benefits of BYOD and offset the majority of the worrisome drawbacks. What’s more, IT departments can feel the benefits of BYOD in a number of ways.
Enterprise mobility management, for example, enables the business to secure mobile devices – be they smart phones or tablets and the information they access.
For instance, control the security and management of applications for users, which could involve passwords or encryption when users deal with sensitive business data. Another possibility is remote wipe technology, which puts the power to delete data on a remote device in the hands of the business. This is ideal if a user has taken or lost important data.
Middleware can also put the ability to communicate and perform administration on multiple devices wherever they may be. With this kind of software, an IT department does not have to communicate with each device individually and can manage devices in batches, as they would a computer network.
In addition, if a business does not feel secure with third-party apps potentially having access to their servers, mobile web apps are the answer. These are applications stored on the business’s secure servers that users access via robust security measures.
· Securing multiple devices is not the huge task that many businesses think it is.
· Enterprise mobility management gives the business the power to secure devices that deal with business data
· Middleware allow the business to communicate with multiple devices at once, rather than dealing with each one individually
· Mobile web apps, hosted on the business servers, ensure secure, controlled access
Increased popularity and power is only going to lead to more and more BYOD work, and will continue to change how people and businesses work together.
The best policies will ensure the security of data, but also that employees have the flexibility and opportunity to use the right tools for the job at hand.