BYOD creates a number of challenges for businesses. But it also has many benefits, as Laura Abrar writes in this guest post.
BYOD (Bring Your own Device) is prompting growing attention from businesses. Most organisations must now take on board the implications of what it means, and figure how it can work for them in the light of a more mobile-savvy workforce.
Businesses need to take heed of the benefits the trend delivers rather than focus on what it has often been perceived as – a ‘major security network risk’. While there are risks that must be managed, a more important question is how it will help businesses succeed.
Recap – What is BYOD?
BYOD falls within the trend for consumerization of IT. It refers to staff, business partners, and users who brings their own computing devices – such as smartphones, laptops and PDAs – into the workplace and connect to the corporate IT network. The trend implies staff have an incremental influence when it comes to using and adopting their preferred technology in work. And it’s not just BYOD any more – there are also Bring Your Own Apps, Bring Your Own Cloud, and Bring Your Own WLAN, among other trends.
In action – What do staff and users currently do with BYOD?
Staff take it for granted that a BYOD program is in place, even if the company doesn’t allow personal devices.
Behaviours which come with the trend include staff of all ages and expertise who use their devices to access work email, and even conduct non-work related activities such as playing games and surfing the web. They find and download mobile apps to help them read documents, share, and make edits in order to speed up and simplify their jobs
Response – How are businesses responding to BYOD?
According to InformationWeek’s 2013 State of Mobile Security report, 68% of IT pros polled said their mobility policy allows employees to use personal mobile for work, with 20% saying they are developing such a policy. At a more strategic level 76% of the UK chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed said that their firms allow BYOD, according to a report by recruitment firm Robert Half Technology.
This year in its global survey of CIOs, Gartner’s Executive Programs predicts in the light of what it terms the ’Nexus of Forces’ that by 2017 half of businesses will require staff to supply their own device for workplace requirements.
In other words, firms will stop buying and deploying devices due of the current shift in device ownership.
This prediction falls in line with the rapid expansion of smart devices as a market sector. The analyst house, IDC, has issued a forecast which indicates that tablet sales will overtake laptops and notebooks in 2013 and become greater than total PC shipments in 2015. As such, it is and will be pretty normal for people to bring and use their own devices in work – and, it won’t matter if a firm has got a BYOD strategy fixed or not.
Ultimately the message filtering through is that businesses need to act now to make BYOD work best for them.
Power to you – Why BYOD assists a business
It’s clear then that BYOD is both a technology and a business strategy. Taking on these twin demands businesses which embrace this trend recognize the pressing requirement to ‘own’ BYOD and harness its positive effects. Simply, they can make their workforce more agile, the business more mobile, and networks even more secure.
Five advantages of BYOD include:
- Embeds mobile as a transformative cultural strategy - A mobile device management (MDM) strategy enables a business to get its act together when it comes to auditing, defining and deploying a systematic use and delivery of mobile devices. BYOD strengthens this approach. It puts a stamp on the cultural change which moves away from employee’s fixed use of organizational technology and services to one which chimes with the times and gives staff more flexibility to work remotely, creatively, and quickly.
- Strengthens the move to the cloud – The cloud means that there is no need for fixed, physical IT infrastructure or networking. Putting all company data into the cloud lowers IT costs and means those with smart devices can carry out business tasks wherever and at whatever time without the need to go into a particular site to access systems on a set schedule.
- Real-time productivity, better staff engagement – Since staff are apparently already using BYOD for their own needs, organisational endorsement of the trend means staff become happier, improve their productivity, can work real-time anywhere. This is further enhanced when remote support solutions are integrated in to the IT systems. Businesses need to work continuously and optimally in a competitive environment these days so this aspect enables it to maintain customer service efforts real-time.
- Smarter, more skilled workforce – With BYOD, staff can use the tools they need to get things done. For instance, HR can respond more robustly and quickly to keep tabs on opportunities by using BYOD to attract and retain the best talent. More projects can be developed and delivered to tighter workflow timescales. The end result is more business done, and an increase in revenues.
- Tightens IT security – IT managers must retain total control over a infrastructure, network and security issues. BYOD hands this piece of the puzzle the IT manager so that the company is thoroughly safeguarded against all possible security issues. By putting in the effort to understand what the BYOD situation is throughout the company a watertight policy can be created in a business’s favour. For instance, a BYOD policy covers which devices can and cannot be used by staff, what apps are allowed, what corporate data should be transferred, stored and wiped. The business stays in control of IT strategy, as opposed to the staff or business contractor who dictates a self-interested BYOD approach.
BYOD can bring several benefits to a firm. With people admitting that they check their smart devices at work at least once a day, a proactive stance helps a business profit from the trend, and allows it to support the structured management of BYOD within the broader IT environment.
About the author: Laura writes about technology and business. She is interested in the role mobile plays in the development of society and business.