What Is BYOD(Bring Your Own Device) And Why Is It Important?

Last updated on December 03, 2015

The latest IT trend in town, BYOD or Bring Your Own Device, is one such practice where employees are encouraged to make use of their personal devices to access enterprise systems and data. Being a small part of the larger trend ‘IT consumerization’ — where hardware and software of the customer are being brought into the enterprise — BYOD is a movement that affects each individual in the company, from the CEO to the hourly worker. The struggle of IT departments to stay on top of constant technological changes continues even to this day. With this struggle has emerged an increasing desire among employees to carry their own devices for corporate data access. The dubbing of ‘Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), encompasses similar initiatives like the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP), and Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC). These initiatives have emerged to empower workforces in line with the concept of ‘IT consumerization’. As a part of this, the BYOD initiative encourages employees working on their own device — accessing their corporate email or viewing text documents through phones and tabs. However, there does live a dark side to the BYOD. When not completely understood, it can threaten the roots of IT security and risk a company’s business systems.

Why turn to BYOD (Bring your own device)?

1. Employee Satisfaction:

When you allow employees to bring their own set of devices that they have invested in, rather than the ones selected by the IT department, they are satisfied at some level — and you know how important it is to keep employees satisfied. 60% of users are said to give more importance to their mobile phones than a cup of coffee. Allowing the use of personal devices will also reduce the number of devices that employees carry to work.

2. Cost Savings:

Cost cutting is a major clause to consider for an enterprise. With the use of BYOD programs, there is a shift of costs from employers to employees, which results in saving budgets.

3. Increased Productivity and Innovation:

It is necessary to consider the comfort of every employee. With their own devices, employees get comfortable and master its usage. These devices are usually equipped with the latest technologies, thus proving to be beneficial to the enterprise. Plus, the hardware is upgraded on a frequent basis.

The Pros and the Cons

The Benefits

Like I’ve already mentioned, the BYOD has a number of benefits: 1. Ensures employee satisfaction 2. Reduces technology costs for field service firms 3. Improves user enhancement 4. Takes advantage of newer devices and their cutting-edge features

The Concerns

1. No uniform end-user support: Problems always arise, no matter what the situation is. With BYOD, there may not be a uniform support system in place for issues that may arise, since all the employees will be working on different devices. It is important to understand and be aware of this. 2. Security: Security is a concern across all platforms today. In fact, it has become a threat. This holds true for a BYOD policy as well, but it is not impossible to overcome this challenge. All it requires is for the IT departments to be apprehensive and prepared. Password-protection and antivirus programs need to be installed to separate work-deck and apps from personal information. 3. Retrieving data: What happens to the company data when an employee leaves the organization? Who will discontinue their access to your company data? Do they have their own phone number? What if clients were calling that number directly? For an employee in the sales environment, this becomes extremely risky, and BYOD policies need to address this issue. Otherwise, an ex-employee may suddenly turn into a competitor with easy access to client information.

How to BYOD

There are four steps to bask in the benefits of ‘Bring Your Own Device’:

Step 1: Plan

First, a cost/benefit analysis is in order! Conduct the analysis when deciding how you’ll be enabling the mobile and who will be using it. Avoiding the determination of a policy is dicey — if there isn’t a policy, BYOD will only lead to chaos. The depth of access that will be allowed for each user segment needs to be decided — ‘Mobile enhance’, ‘mobile optional’, or ‘mobile primary’. Apart from this, security policies and mobile device funding for each segment needs to be determined, after which an estimate of the entire IT support must be done.

Step 2: Secure and Manage

It is said that 71% of IT managers and CEOs state security as being one of their most significant and compelling mobile enterprise challenges. It is important to carefully pick the technologies to use for the management and security of mobile devices. Say for example, a smartphone with immense amounts of sensitive data and be stolen thus putting this information in the wrong hands. The enterprise system that will be planned needs to be flexible enough for controlling the connections to a constantly growing variety of devices.

Step 3: Communication of the BYOD policy

Around 39% of organizations have had security breaches due to the loss of a mobile device. Do employees understand the risks? The communication of which kinds of data can be accessed on what devices. The rules need to be made very clear to employees with the help of training as well.

Step 4: Support

It can be guaranteed that organizations will have more support call — and the answer to these cries of help will take longer to find. This is where up-front investment needs to be done in order to gain long term benefits of granting employees the access through personal devices.

The Tips to establishing a Successful BYOD Policy

If you are still in the process of developing a corporate Bring Your Own Device policy, or have one that is outdated, or still haven’t gotten around to creating a policy yet, here are few tips that will help in addressing IT service, security, application use, and various other components:

1. Specify the devices that will be permitted.

The old days were clear and simple. You had a blackberry that you used for work and nothing else. Today, employees are pampered with choice from iOS based to android phones. Remember that it is important to specify what exactly is meant by ‘bring your own device’. Should you instead be saying bring your own android and not an iOS? Or should you be saying bring your own iPad but no other gadgets? You need to clarify what devices are acceptable by the enterprise, and what devices can be used.

2. Establish a strict security policy for all the devises that enter the premises.

Device users generally refuse having lock screens and passwords on their personal devices. They hurdle towards the ease of access to the functions and the content on their device. This, however, is not a very valid complaint. Once phones and other devices are connected to the corporate servers, a lot of sensitive information can be accessed. If employees wish to adopt the BYOD initiative, they need to be willing to configure their devices with complex passwords for protection. A strong, lengthy alphabetical password needs to be placed — not a simple four-digit one.

3. Define a clear service policy for devices under BYOD criteria

There are boundaries that the management needs to set when it comes to resolving problems and questions about employees’ personal devices. To be able to implement this, policy-makers will need to answer the following questions: What support will be provided for damaged devices? What will be the policies for support on personally owned set of applications? Will you limit Helpdesk to ticketing problems with email, calendaring and other personal information management-type applications?

4. Clear communication needs to be given on who owns what apps and data.

While it may seem logical for the organization to have sole rights on the personal information that is stored on the servers, the problem arises during the event of wiping the device in case of theft. Traditionally when a device is wiped all the files in it get erased as well, including any personal items that the individual may have paid for. Sometimes these items may be irreplaceable. Thus, questions must be asked as to whether the BYOD policy that is created will allow the wiping of the entire device that is brought into the network. If so, employees need to be provided with clear guidance on how they can secure their devices and back up the information to restore it once the device is retrieved or replaced.

5. What apps will be allowed and what banned.

This rule must apply to any device that can connect to organization servers, corporate or personal. The major considerations will include the application for replacement email applications, social media browsing, and VPNs or other remote access software. The question that will arise is whether users will be able to download, install, and make use of applications that may cause security issues or legal risks on the device that has access to sensitive corporate resources.

6. Integrate the BYOD plan with the acceptable use policy.

Most companies have corporate issued phones that are treated like desktop computers, notebooks, and other equipment on the network. However, the questions always arises as to allowing personal devices will potentially connect the organizations VPN to sites that may or may not be permitted. Discussions about the acceptable use policy is required.

7. Setting up an employee exit strategy

Lastly, consider what is going to happen when an employee leaves the organization with the BYOD device. How will the management enforce the removal of all access token, data, email accesses, and other proprietary information and applications? It isn’t simple. Employees cannot just return a corporate issued phone. Many companies rely on the disablement of emails or the synchronization access as part of an exit interview and checklists of the HR. the heavy security conscious ones, however, tend to perform a BYOD enabled wipe as a mandatory exit strategy.

10 BYOD Worker Types

The BYOD initiative affects everyone in the organization, right from the CEO to the hourly workers. Accordingly, Cio.com provides 10 most common BYOD worker types.

The main class of workers to blame for the BYOD phenomenon is the Millennials of the work force. They are the ones who pressure the management into allowing them to use their own mobile devices on the job. They work odd hours and over the weekends. They wants their personal and business lives blended.

Techies have found a friend in the Android. With the BYOD initiative, android has allowed the geeks to embrace the consumer tech. The openness that techies crave is offered by the android while serving up cool apps for the purpose of monitoring systems remotely and other IT functions.

CEOs have a sacred place in the BYOD world. They use what they want, when they want, and how they want and the work of IT is to make it happen. The birthplace of BYOD has been in every corner office.

The BYOD initiative isn’t something for everyone, however companies have still mandated the policy for all employees in the organization, regardless of which workers do not want to waste money on fancy mobile devices, sign privacy rights, and then browse social networks for support when problems arise.

Salespeople love keeping things simple, give presentations that are dynamic, and hate using keyboards. They too like the Millennials love to blend work and personal life.

The hourly workers and the entry levels have a lot to gain from BYOD. They would not have been privilege to own a corporate issued device. It is a kind of freedom they were not given previously. They will get to work outside of office hours.

Every organization has complainers. Nothing is good enough. BYOD is not exception. It began with complaining about the want of BYOD in the organization and then stretched to complaining about the concerns of BYOD.

Addicts of social networking love the BYOD initiative. Social networking becomes easier while doing work. This leads to the company’s concern of producing nonproductive workers. Few companies have even gone to the extent of banning Facebook and other networking sites.

BYOD can be disastrous when in the wrong hands. Almost every company has disgruntled employees who are ready to leave and take confidential data with them.

In the spotlight of the BYOD stage is the CIOs. The job description includes making the initiative work for everyone from drafting a policy to privacy right to the legal issues. It’s interesting when you start thinking of where you or your employees fit in. It is also very useful, because it makes sure you’re prepared for any eventualities. BYOD is certainly beneficial, but you need to make sure you implement and utilize it with utmost care. What other fascinating things have you learned about or experienced with BYOD? Tell us in your comments below!

Find out all there is to know about Bring Your Own device philosophy that is being adopted in the IT world!

Avantika Monnappa

Avantika holds a degree in Journalism, & writes on such topics of interest as PMP, Digital Marketing, Six Sigma, & Big Data. She also maintains a travelogue, blogs on media issues, and volunteers at a boarding home for stray dogs. She enjoys art & travelling, & loves outdoor activities like basketball, athletics, & swimming.

Originally published at www.simplilearn.com.