According to Gartner, half of companies will require BYOD by 2017. Despite these staggering numbers, BYOD is still a topic that is very polarizing for many organizations. I wanted to spend some time reviewing the benefits and challenges of BYOD as well as provide some good next steps for organizations still in the process of their BYOD journey. Some of the benefits of BYOD include:
- Increased productivity – by providing users with access to their business apps and data on their personal devices, organizations generally see a nice productivity boost. Since employees will always have their device with them, they will be more available to continue their work seamlessly regardless of their location. If users can just fire up an app on their phone or tablet to complete a task as opposed to booting up their laptop and connecting to the corporate VPN they will be more likely to get it done quicker.
- Employee satisfaction – most employees would much rather use their own devices as opposed to having to carry a personal and corporate device. This also allows employees to upgrade at their own pace. If they choose to wait in line for the latest smart phone or tablet, then they can without having to wait for the corporate refresh cycle.
- Reduced costs - organizations can generally save anywhere from $60-$80 a month per employee by moving from corporate owned and fully managed devices to BYOD. Money is generally saved on the device purchases for employees, maintenance of these devices and voice and data plans.
- Appeal to the next generation workforce – The next generation workforce is used to accessing their data at any time from any device. Support for BYOD can lead to job candidates choosing one company over another. A culture of BYOD can be a nice differentiator when trying to hire top talent.
To quote one of our engineers, BYOD is “not all rainbows and unicorns” though. There are some challenges that organizations will have to address including:
- Device compatibility issues – by allow any type of device to access the business apps and data organizations are bound to run into some compatibility issues. These issues can be due to operating systems, software versions, incorrect configurations, legacy hardware, ect.
- Privacy concerns – many BYOD policies require some level of mobile device management interaction with employee devices. This can raise privacy concerns for some employees who fear “Big Brother” tracking what they are doing and where they are through the use of locations services or GPS on the devices. In reality these concerns can generally be mitigated through employee education but it is a challenge that needs to be addressed.
- Data Security – protecting the organizations sensitive data on personally owned devices is the clearest challenge of BYOD. Data may be resident on these devices once they leave the workplace. Lost or stolen devices still account for many of the security breaches we see in the news. Protecting the sensitive data without interfering with the employee’s access to personal information is something that many organizations struggle with.
- BYOD Policy – another area where many organizations struggle with is with the creating of a formal BYOD policy. This can be challenging as BYOD is a topic that tends to require input and buy-in from many stakeholder groups including senior management, IT (network , server, telecom, wireless, security, ect), HR and legal among others. Getting this many groups to agree on a policy can be a difficult undertaking.
The kicker here is that whether or not an organization supports BYOD, unless controls are in place to limit personal devices access, employees are already using their own devices in most environments. Employees are bringing their devices into work and connecting to corporate wireless. A recent Harris Poll showed that more than a third of US adults surveyed don’t use PINs, passwords or encryption on their devices. This means if someone leaves their device in a cab, the finder can potentially have access to sensitive data with a simple swipe of their finger. Scary stuff.
Now that we laid out some benefits and some challenges, let’s discuss next steps. We are seeing wide adoption of BYOD across our customer base and all of the challenges discussed can be addressed. Below are some things you should strongly consider:
- Review your goals - review both short-term and long-term BYOD goals. You would be surprised how many customers we have that just jump into technology without taking this important step.
- Build a BYOD Policy - this is another item which sometimes gets overlooked.
- Assess your infrastructure - review what you have. Make sure your environment is ready if you decide to open the door to BYOD. Many wireless networks weren’t designed to have users connecting with 3 or more devices at a time.
- Look for integrated solutions – most IT manufacturers have some form of BYOD solution. The key is finding the right components that can be integrated to provide a scalable architecture that can grow with your organization and handle the rapidly changing mobile environment.
Presidio has helped many organizations with all aspects of BYOD including strategy development, policy creation, infrastructure assessment and architecture design and implementation. Let us know if you are running into any snags. We are happy to help.
Last but not least, check out our BYOD web page. There is a lot of great content out there.