Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

With increasing pressure on organisations to save money during times of austerity, particularly those ongoing killer revenue costs. Does implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy help deliver that, or just open up a whole new set of security related issues and concerns?

What is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

The easiest analogy for BYOD is the company car scheme. Originally the benefits were so good that everybody opted in and then transported their entire family, friends and neighbours great distances at every conceivable opportunity. Then the tax laws caught up and organisations introduced choice where by you could have a company car or use your own. Incentives being introduced for the latter recognising the cost savings to the company of not providing a car. This normally fitted within policy guidelines to ensure the vehicles selected were in keeping with the companies brand and image. BYOD is the same, requiring similar policies to be put in place to ensure suitability and uniquely for BYOD, compatibility, as well as similarly styled incentives to help encourage employees across from company supplied equipment.

How can Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) save money?

The simple answer is by reducing demand on IT Support. If staff are familiar with how to use their own devices, because they use them all the time, then your organisation is less likely to have to support them. Also individuals would have spent time selecting their preferred device and tuned into what works or doesn’t work for them. For example, if an individual chose an iPhone and your organisation’s policy was to issue Blackberry’s then those same individuals are firstly going to carry both, and then call upon IT Support with every Blackberry related enquiry they have. Even if just to demonstrate a point or air their particular frustration. If on the other hand you implement BYOD then chances are staff using their own devices will rarely need IT Support.

Sounds simple, but what are the risks?

The main risk is associated with the device itself being lost or left somewhere whilst containing company sensitive information. The BYOD policy will need to address security indicating the requirements on data storage, backup and encryption. This is no no different to policies required for a company asset, just with the emphasis placed on the individual employee instead, to ensure everything is in place. You can see most resistance on BYOD coming from the IT department, as control is passed across to individuals.

I understand how this might work for eMail and Internet access, but what about accessing specific applications?

The current thinking on this is to write App’s on the most common platforms that link to company systems: iPhone, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry RIM. Cross-platform App’s may mean that soon there will only be a requirement to write them once. This area is still quite new and most BOYD policies simply target eMail and Internet access, at least to start with.

Are there any other benefits?

The close relationship people have with their Smart Phones means they are more likely to respond to eMail traffic outside of core hours. Whether that is a benefit or not is arguable. It is definitely the case that staff are much more easy to contact under BYOD, which has got to be a good thing.

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