Bring Your Own Device is the rapidly growing trend for employees to use personal devices to access their employer’s network. Whatever the size of your business, the chance to increase productivity and flexibility is something that can’t be ignored.
However, if not managed correctly, the risks could well outweigh the advantages. With no signs of this trend diminishing, a thorough evaluation of the pros and cons is essential.
Win-Win For Everyone?
The vast array of sophisticated devices available today enables anyone to work from anywhere. With cloud technology making even small businesses global players, flexibility in working practices and instant access to data is vital for survival.
A BYOD system gives companies the ability to respond quickly to client demands and allows staff more control over their methods of working, within the remit of the firm’s requirements – a happy and productive outcome for employer and employee alike.
BYOD and Security Issues: An Impossible Contradiction?
Security breaches are a constant and growing part of everyday life, yet secure data storage and access is massively overlooked by companies and individuals. Every time employees tap into company networks the vulnerabilities increase dramatically, and with it the chances of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.
The problem is exacerbated by the increasing use of apps that are extremely hard to protect against hackers, even with a robust security system.
Don’t Forget Compatibility Issues
The huge selection of devices available means the network can be accessed in a variety of ways, from PCs and laptops to tablets and phones, not to mention different operating systems. Simply using the wrong browser can have all sorts of effects and render certain programs completely inoperable. Finding an effective security solution to accommodate this degree of diversity is a highly complex task. If there are any issues with your laptop you will have to be a computer doctor to fix your device immediately otherwise you will be wasting a lot of your business hours.
The Human Cost
This is often overlooked in the drive for productivity and expansion. While it’s undeniable that the rapid increase in technological capability is a positive development, the ability to have constant access raises the worrying concern that staff are never off duty.
Without correct safeguards, stress levels and work-related illnesses have the potential to rise dramatically. To protect both individuals and employers, any solution must address these issues.
The Need For Solutions
Despite the difficulties, it seems unlikely that the BYOD trend will decrease. Indeed a study by Gartner (one the world’s leading technology research organizations) suggests that 38% of companies will stop providing devices for employees altogether by 2016, which is obviously just around the corner.
As business carries on 24 hours a day on an international scale, no one can afford to lose out to their competitors. It’s imperative that the risks are understood and managed.
BYOD Management: Strict Policies and Procedures
The way ahead requires organizations to implement and maintain strict security processes, which are understood and followed by all relevant employees. However, to achieve this, the company must have some level of control over the personal devices of individuals.
The ensuing concerns about privacy will only be overcome if management and staff work closely together to evaluate the issues and develop solutions which are acceptable to all, or at least to the majority. Without a method based on mutual consent, employees will continue to use their gadget of choice and the problems will continue.
Legislation At Last
The need to manage the BYOD culture is finally being recognized at the highest levels. In Germany, government measures have been implemented to ban managers from contacting staff outside working hours. Rules in France have been introduced allowing some staff to ignore emails and calls out of hours.
BMW and Vodafone UK have introduced regulations to safeguard employees. In the US, the White House has been providing guidelines for organizations and federal agencies for several years. The situation is far from perfect but at least the issues are starting to be addressed.
BYOD Is Here To Stay
BYOD isn’t going away despite the problems. Constant technological innovation, accompanied by huge changes in business practices, mean that companies and their employees will continue to do whatever it takes to keep their competitive edge. Indeed, if they want to survive they really don’t have a choice.
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