Bring your own device, or BYOD, is certainly something that businesses can no longer afford to ignore. By 2017, Gartner predicts that half of all employers will require staff to provide their own work devices.
But before organisations ultimately decide to embrace or reject BYOD, they must be aware of the advantages and disadvantages at the heart of this mobile dilemma.
The benefits of BYOD are well documented. By using their own devices, employees gain a greater sense of autonomy and responsibility, which in turn manifests itself as better staff morale. Bring your own device policies also give employees greater flexibility by enabling them to choose their own smartphone and mean they are likely to be contactable and productive even when away from the office. Already stretched IT budgets will also save themselves significant sums by not having to purchase smartphones for employees and avoiding maintenance costs.
However, BYOD also poses challenges, chiefly that it is difficult for businesses to retain control of their own data when they do not own the devices on which it is stored. Enforcing password security and robust firewall protection is also difficult when employees can purchase and manage their own devices. If a personal device is lost or stolen, the potentially sensitive business information stored within it is also at risk.
However, there are options available to IT leaders wishing to implement BYOD without compromising their company’s security. Firstly, there are BYOD variations that might be more suitable, including CYOD (choose your own device) and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled). Both of these options, place restrictions on the devices that employees can use for work, giving the business greater control, but still allowing staff a degree of mobility. Mobile device management (MDM) software is another possibility, as it enables firms to oversee the movement and storage of company data and software.
Overall, it’s up to each business to assess the risks and benefits of BYOD before deciding whether or not to implement it.