BYOD in business: vulnerability or opportunity?
I’ll be quite shocked if you haven’t heard of BYOD (bring your own device) before, as it is one of the most popular technological trends sweeping businesses and you probably even do it yourself.
For those of you that don’t know, BYOD simply refers to employees that bring their own computing devices to the workplace to use, these devices include smartphones, tablets and laptops.
It’s clear to say that BYOD is here to stay with many statistics proving so; research company Gartner anticipates that by 2017, half of businesses will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes.
Who implements BYOD?
While examples of BYOD can be seen globally in businesses of all sizes, it is mostly seen in midsize and large companies. It could be argued, however, that BYOD has the biggest impact on smaller organisations, enabling them to go mobile without huge investment.
So, why implement a BYOD strategy?
Productivity – If an employee is able to choose a device they would like to work with, chances are they already know how to use it! This eliminates the learning curve of purchasing a new device and increases productivity from the start.
If you own the device that you work on, for example a smartphone, you are more likely to have it with you all the time. This means employee’s will have access to emails and be increasingly available on the move. From my experience if the familiar email notification sound is heard, you can’t resist checking your work email on a weekend.
Reduce costs – Unless the company opts to pay for the devices, they are saving a considerable amount of money since laptops cost an average of £4 -500 per person, depending on the make. Furthermore, if an employee is unsure on how to use a particular device that the company has already purchased, they would also have to pay for an equipment training course. BYOD resolves this issue and potentially saves the company thousands of pounds.
Trust – Employee morale is improved if the employer trusts the employee. This is what BYOD is essentially… trust. You’re saying to the employee that you trust them to balance their work and home life on one device and you trust them not to let anyone access their data. Trust goes a long way towards employee happiness and company commitment.
What’s the downside of BYOD?
Security – With BYOD, security is based on employee trust and protocols must be put in place to ensure that information is not breached. What happens if your data is leaked, or employees connect an infected device up to your business network? What system will you put into place to ensure that when an employee leaves the company, they leave all business data behind? These are internal protocols that need to be thought about, I’d suggest that you involve the HR department in these decisions as well to ensure employee’s rights are protected.
Cloud sprawl – Cloud Sprawl is when data, both corporate and personal, has been divided over multiple Cloud platforms. For example, one employee may upload and share a file on drop box, another on Facebook and one via email. How can the business keep track of all these different Clouds, their terms and conditions and who the data is viewed by? Internal protocols must be created to prevent Cloud sprawl from happening.
Cost for employee – Although saving the company money, the employee may feel negative about having to purchase their own device, especially if it is expensive, they may not be able to afford the additional capital expense.
Distractions – Employees that have difficulty managing their home and work life may get distracted by using a personal device for work. Facebook notifications, texts and alerts could cause distraction and reduce productivity.
BYOD is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to expand, improve employee morale, save money and take advantage of the Cloud; however, like all other technologies, there are also negatives factors that need to be overcome. Thankfully, these can be solved with some internal policy changes, many of which may already be in place, so the positives of this technology inevitably outweigh the negatives.