BYOD is an acronym that many individuals have probably never heard of, but in corporate America it is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, Gartner says BYOD programs “herald the most radical shift in enterprise computing since the introduction of the PC.” The term means “Bring Your Own Device,” and it allows employees to use their personal smartphones or tablets to access privileged company resources – think email, CRM, file server, database, etc.
BYOD did not appear out of nowhere. As computers became increasingly affordable, portable, and connected around the turn of the millennium, before the world went mobile, people began using at home computers for work after office hours. The BYOD model has been budding for decades. However, regardless of the hints along the way, BYOD is a concept that has left many executives and IT professionals scratching their heads.
As I was always taught to do when faced with a tough decision, I decided to write out a trusty pro-con list in hopes of providing you with some helpful information about the good and bad associated with launching a corporate-wide BYOD strategy.
“THE GOOD”: Pros of BYOD
Convenience BYOD helps to streamline the overwhelming amount of information we interact with each day. Employees are able to use one device to access their work email, as well as determine if it’s their turn to take the kids to soccer practice. Instead of juggling personal and professional use amongst several technologies, they can carry out both functions on one device.
Increased Responsiveness When you blend personal and business devices, it creates a lack of separation that allows employees to become more available and responsive to customers. After all, 91% of smartphone owners (that’s a whopping 125 million Americans!) have their phone within three feet at all times.
Reduced Company Costs First, think about all of the costs associated with company-owned devices that corporations are currently paying for: hardware, plans, maintenance, chargers, cases, etc. Second, take into account that 50% of companies supporting BYOD require that employees cover all costs, and employees are more than willing to take their employers up on the offer! Hmmm, so employees want to pay for devices that companies currently pay for…sounds like savings to me!
Unlimited Options Employees have the autonomy to buy any phone and use any service provider they would like, so they can use technology they are familiar with and enjoy. On the other hand, companies have the freedom to expand globally without running into barriers due to service contracts and existing policies.
Increased Productivity The idea behind BYOD is that employees can access organizational data anytime, anywhere, from their personal device – easy access to material will naturally encourage productivity. Perhaps you go in to check an email after hours, then, temptation arises, so you check another or you answer a little here, a little there as you wait for the subway. Before you realize it, you have been productive!
Increased Employee Satisfaction No one wants to hassle with outdated PCs and allegedly ancient equipment that they aren’t familiar with – heck, your new employees were children when dial-up was around! As Generation Y begins to fill the workforce, you’re going to find a BYOD environment makes for happy employees. In 2012, Stephen Leonard, Chief Executive of IBM in the UK and Ireland, stated that he has “no doubt that [BYOD] has had a major impact on the improved Employee Satisfaction which has increased 25% since Q1 2010.”
“THE BAD”: Cons of BYOD
Multiple Devices The technology world does not make many, if any, one-size fits all solutions. Most likely if you plan on launching a corporate-wide internal application within a BYOD environment, you will pay in time, personnel, and money to have the solution run on multiple devices.
Financial Investment In order to organize BYOD correctly you will have to spend some money and time initially.
- Implement a MDM; incur subscription costs, and dedicate IT staff to manage it
- Develop a BYOD policy and dedicate a team to manage the project
- Update current enterprise security and help desk
Security Risk For corporations, the most concerning part of implementing BYOD is the security risk it presents. In a BYOD environment, employees have access to corporate assets on their personal devices. This lack of control presents a unique security challenge for IT departments and is driving the need for stronger authentication and access control policies on employee-owned mobile devices. It also pushes companies to move security efforts from the endpoint to the network.
Regulatory Concerns Although it seems like a logical conclusion, BYOD is not mired by regulatory compliance. In fact, highly sensitive industries, like financial service/insurance and healthcare, continue to be among the biggest supporters of BYOD. Good Technology also showed an increase in Government agency adoptions of BYOD programs in 2012.
Unfortunately there is no right or wrong answer for whether BYOD will work for your company. Every situation is unique, requiring different levels of security and mobility. However, I will point out that an enterprise BYOD environment is seemingly inevitable.
The mobile device market is growing rapidly. We’ve seen that first hand here at Maestro. Customized applications and solutions developed for mobile devices in a mobile workforce are in high demand as the hours and locations people choose to work evolve, and as the amount of information they need to absorb to succeed continues to rise. In addition, “the percentage of enterprises formally supporting BYOD increased from 72 to 76 percent [and] those companies that indicated they had no plans to support BYOD dropped from 9 to 5 percent year-over-year.” Even more, companies that began BYOD on a limited basis are now confident about making that deployment more widespread.
So there you have it, the good, the bad, and the BYOD. The trend is clear; companies are adopting BYOD programs. Perhaps it’s time to make a pro-con list of your own!