In recent years, the work place has become more mobile than ever, and the mobile worker revolution is, in large part, the reason for the rise in Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. The big idea is that through the use of cloud computing-based collaboration platforms, enterprise-class companies can save a great deal of money in IT, security and overall operational costs.
While this would seem like a no-brainer, more companies are learning that the opposite is true. Both executives and employees need to know the realities of BYOD programs, and how they truly affect operations.
One thing that every BYOD advocate assumes is that all employees are digitally or tech minded. The reality is that some employees may actually prefer archaic technology. On top of that, they might even believe that older tech is more efficient. They also might not be excited about having to buy their own laptop or tablet PC. This is where many BYOD policies come up short.
This is a hotly debated component of BYOD implementation. Some people say that BYOD cuts costs by shifting buying power to employees. Other people believe that BYOD policies completely overlook the financial strain such a program would put on the IT department.
Outside of the financial strain BYOD may or may not put on an IT department, there is the obvious concern of logistical problems that may arise. The good news is that some smart enterprise-class companies require their employees to handle all IT logistics.
The bad news is that according to a recent poll conducted by Damovo, seven out of 10 companies surveyed would still provide ongoing support for employee-purchased mobile devices. On top of this, providing support for company smartphones would be a sheer nightmare. Companies would need to hire a full-time iOS or Android expert, which is expensive.
This seems silly, but implementing a BYOD policy may induce employee feuding. As more affluent employees purchase top-of-the-line laptops, tablets and smartphones, other employees may become jealous of their productivity and flashy new gadgets.
The most pressing concern for enterprise-class and SMBs alike is the security of intellectual property. When someone leaves the company, there is no way to guarantee that trade secrets and confidential company information will not be stolen. Companies would need to invest in remote wipe services to protect their IP.
One of the greatest defenses of the BYOD revolution is that it cuts costs by shifting buying power from the company to the employee. It allows company employees to buy and use the devices they love, and it doesn’t cost the company a dime in purchasing costs.
Many companies have stringent rules relating to employee use of computing devices. In many cases, employees are not allowed to take mobile devices out of the work facility.
In addition to security risks, unmonitored mobile devices pose the threat of data loss. Protecting against this involves increasing IT support to ensure high levels of data retention throughout the IT infrastructure.
New mobile tech has done wonders for interactive learning at all levels. Employee-owned tablet PCs and laptops can be used to give presentations from anywhere in the office.
Lastly, employees who use their own devices often experience more satisfaction with their work. They can feel comfortable in delivering high-caliber work with their own computing tools.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a problem like this. In creating a BYOD policy, you have to consider what devices you’ll need to support, how much access you will give employees, and what kind of budget you can allocate. Do you have specific compliance issues to contend with? Are you willing to subsidize data plans or device purchases? How do you ensure company data is kept safe?
If you have an existing policy for laptops, then that’s a good place to start.
Take the time to assess and weigh your employees’ desires against the needs of the company. If you can get a solid agreement in place and create a user policy that your employees are happy to sign, then it should be easy sailing. Setting up a comprehensive policy will require a lot of work upfront, but it will also safeguard you against disputes and problems down the line.
By Michelle Drolet, founder and CEO, Towerwall
Special to SmallBusinessComputing.com