How to Get the Most from BYOD in Your Business
BYOD - bring your own (personal) device to work - is here, and it’s here to stay.
What was perhaps viewed as a passing fad even just a few short years ago is now the rule rather than the exception. According to one recent study, three quarters of all companies have either adopted the bring-your-own-device model already or plan to do so within the next year. Only a small minority of companies claim to have no plans to adopt a full-scale BYOD program or even allow employees to use personal devices for work.
Yet for all of the acceptance that BYOD has gained in the modern workplace, there is still the perception that companies aren’t truly reaping all of the benefits of a truly mobile workforce. Some of this is due to mindset — as in employees and managers still view their mobile devices primarily as communication tools, rather than tools for actually getting work done — and some of it is due to technological limitations.
Given that BYOD is so prevalent, though, it’s time for companies to move away from the question of whether to accept BYOD and toward maximizing its potential in the workplace. In order for that to happen, most companies need to make a few key changes.
1. Build “BYOD Ready” Networks
While security has been the primary concern in most conversations regarding BYOD, of equal concern is the readiness of the corporate network to handle all of the devices attempting to gain access. Most employees will be gaining access to the network not only with their computers at their desks but an additional device or two. This can create clogs on the network that affect performance. For example, when employees use their personal devices during the workday to stream media, it can tie up bandwidth that affects the performance of critical applications. In addition, employees are expecting networks to have continuous availability, especially given that one of the promises of BYOD is the ability to work any time, from anywhere.
So while adopting BYOD means adopting network security that includes continuous monitoring, threat detection, and controlled access, it also means investing in infrastructure that allows employees to actually use their devices and remain productive, without slowdowns or other issues.
2. Create Easy to Follow Security Protocols
Again, security is a major concern in the BYOD environment, especially for those companies covered under strict rules like HIPAA. However, a major complaint among BYOD users is that their companies security protocols go too far, making it difficult or even impossible to access the network. The idea is to increase productivity, not make employees spend 45 minutes on the phone with tech support trying to determine why they cannot authenticate and access their email. The key to a successful BYOD program is creating an environment in which it is easy for users to access the network and the apps they need while still keeping the data secure.
Another common complaint among BYOD users are the rules and restrictions regarding the use of their own devices. In some cases, employees are forced to sign agreements allowing their employers to remotely lock or wipe a device due to suspicious activity, or that allow their employers to monitor their activities on their device, work related or not — all in the name of security.
Companies that want to fully realize the advantages of BYOD need to implement security tools that maintain the boundaries between personal and work activities. They need to accept that the employee is the owner of the device and develop policies that recognize that fact while still defining acceptable use. Until that happens, it’s unlikely that companies will get the most value from a BYOD effort.
3. Make Better Use of the Cloud
While BYOD is being adopted to help employees be more productive, most people are not taking advantage of their device’s full capabilities and using them primarily for emailing, calling, and messaging. Usually this is because, in many cases, they simply don’t have the ability to perform other functions.
Moving vital functions to the cloud can help employees maximize their devices; for example, by using an online business fax employees can send and receive documents just as they would an email. Cloud-based applications that allow employees to complete vital tasks from a phone or tablet can also add to the benefits of BYOD. By employing the cloud to allow access to the same functions one may perform on a desktop, BYOD becomes an extension of the cubicle and reveals its full potential.
BYOD is clearly here to stay, and now is the time to refine how it is used and make changes that maximize its potential. Otherwise, it may be at risk of actually being a fad, or a good idea that was never truly realized.