Have we finally solved BYOD?

BYOD or bring your own device, as well as its many variants, is a concept well-known to IT professionals across a multitude of business sectors.

The idea of enabling employees to use their own personal device for work-related tasks is common practice across many organisations and has seen benefits including increased employee satisfaction and lower IT costs.

However, this approach has also not been without its problems and for every satisfied member of staff there’s been an IT leader battling against security issues.

As a result, a number of off-shoots from BYOD have emerged that look to provide convenience without compromising corporate data. CYOD, or choose your own device and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) are two such examples and both offer their own benefits and drawbacks.

On the whole, BYOD offers employees increased flexibility that can lead to increased workplace satisfaction and hence, productivity. Instead of draconian policies governing what can and can’t be done with company property, BYOD allows members of staff to carry a single device for all their personal and work-based tasks. It also means employees are likely to remain contactable and able to carry out work wherever they are.

A BYOD policy can also result in significant savings for a business. Instead of wasting already stretched IT budgets on a new smartphone for every member of staff, BYOD means a greatly reduced financial outlay. Employees are also more likely to take better care of their own devices, so maintenance and repair costs are also likely to be lower.

On the surface, BYOD may appear to offer a wealth of opportunities for businesses and employees, but it also offers some considerable risks. By placing corporate data onto personal devices, organisations have a flimsy grip on sensitive information. BYOD can cause technology officers headaches as they grapple with what data to grant employees access to and what to do if a device is lost or compromised.

Choose your own device looks to eradicate this security minefield by offering employees a selection of company-approved devices upon which to work. This ultimately offers IT managers more control, but, of course, employees may be disappointed with the restrictions placed on their handsets.

COPE, or corporate owned, personally enabled, devices also look to combine mobility and security. By granting employees the freedom to select a smartphone of their choice, but allowing the company to retain legal ownership of the device, organisations ultimately retain ownership of any sensitive business data. In this scenario, however, employees may be concerned by how much of their personal lives are being monitored by their employers.

Whatever policy a company ultimately adopts, whether it’s BYOD, CYOD or COPE, security concerns can be alleviated by using an effective mobile device management (MDM) provider. MDM is usually facilitated through third-party software and enables administrators to oversee the distribution of information, applications and files across a wide range of mobile devices. It means that companies can tailor their BYOD approach specifically to suit their needs, depending on the level of security required and the number of devices within an organisation.

With an increasingly mobile workforce demanding greater flexibility than ever before, IT managers need to be suitably informed on the latest approaches to the BYOD phenomenon. Expert opinion and the latest information on secure data management will be available at this year’s UC Expo, taking place on the 21-22 April at Olympia, London.

Register to attend UC EXPO 2015 FREE today.