BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is everywhere, with enterprises across the globe taking advantage of the cost-cutting benefits such programs offer. BYOD allows employees to use their personal mobile devices–including smart phones, tablets, and even laptops–for conducting business, using company technology platforms, and accessing the company’s network.
While at first skeptics expressed concern about the potential security ramifications of BYOD, clear policies and newer mobile security software applications negate these issues. Now, with the advantages clear, corporations are even beginning to require employees to participate. In fact, Gartner predicts that 50 percent of enterprises will require employees to supply their own devices for work purposes by 2017.
BYOD at the Forefront
Two out of three U.S. and European workers already bring their own devices to the workplace. Not all companies have clear BYOD policies in place–some simply allow the use of personal devices as the need arises. Other companies are adopting strict IT rules and regulations, requiring the use of company-supplied mobile application security programs and restricting access to certain apps and websites while using a device for work purposes.
By 2016, Gartner predicts that two-thirds of the workforce will own their own smart phones, and 38 percent of companies will no longer offer company-supplied devices to employees. This growing BYOD trend creates a need for enterprise mobility management (EMM), or regulating access to the company’s software infrastructure via a variety of devices. Programs designed specifically for easing mobile device management for enterprises are already available.
BYOD is More Practical for Many Employees
The rapid saturation of BYOD in the corporate world is often attributed to the ease of use. Employees are typically more familiar and comfortable with their own devices, eliminating the learning curve necessary for implementing company-issued devices. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of IT directors say their personal devices are more useful to them in the workplace than company-supplied devices. Imagine you are implementing a new software solution like marketing automation, instead of your employees having to get comfortable with a new device and a new platform, they can learn on their own personal devices.
The other major benefit is that BYOD often boosts employee morale. Employees feel more in control of their working methods and even their schedules–and many feel that it’s a boost of confidence being trusted with access to sensitive company data outside the restrictions of the office walls. BYOD brings a sense of freedom to the working world, making working outside the cubicle and after-hours more realistic. All of this contributes to a stronger bottom-line for the enterprise.
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Cloud Computing and BYOD Go Hand-in-Hand
Cloud computing is pushing BYOD to the forefront in many industries. The increase in use of cloud computing applications makes providing access to files and other data simpler for companies. Some employers adopt cloud computing simply because it streamlines the process of sharing information across a multitude of mobile devices.
Other organizations adopt cloud computing applications first, then quickly realize how easy allowing remote work is with these programs. Employees access files at the office and later pick up where they left off at home, while updates are automatically synced with the cloud and available to anyone accessing the same files.
When accessing the necessary information with cloud-based applications, there’s no longer a need for expensive, company-supplied devices with proprietary data and software installed.
Policies Make BYOD Safer for Enterprises
One of the most commonly cited objections to BYOD is the potential security risk. But IT security, policies, and rules, when used appropriately, are more than adequate for mitigating and preventing risks. About 38 percent of companies don’t yet have a comprehensive BYOD policy in place. But with increased awareness and expert recommendations, more companies implement policies every day. Commonly used policies and procedures include:
- Restricting access to non-company applications and websites while logged in to the company network
- Installing company-supplied mobile application software
- Blocking access to sites with known risks
- Implementing remote access for deleting data on lost or stolen devices
- Requiring two-step authentication for securing devices when not in use
BYOD actually results in less demands on internal IT departments in many cases. That’s because employees, in general, take responsibility for repairing and replacing their own tech devices. Instead of dropping off a smart phone or tablet at the IT department, employees contact their mobile suppliers for resolving common issues.
BYOD Growth Brings Big Changes to Ancillary Markets
BYOD’s explosive growth does more than just enable mobile workforces. The impacts are far-reaching, encompassing security, service providers, device manufacturers, and tools that help companies effectively manage BYOD. With corporations in the hundreds to thousands of employees, managing a BYOD program is more complex than simply giving the go-ahead to tap into the company network with a personal device.
That’s why some experts predict that growth will expand into ancillary markets, including BYOA (Bring Your Own App) and even COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled). If employees are using their own devices for conducting business, why not use their preferred applications as well? With flexible work becoming the norm, many positions are leaning towards an independent contractor-like model, allowing the use of whatever tools and resources employees prefer–provided they complete tasks on time and to expected standards.
Tools to Manage BYOD
There are many applications available for managing BYOD. Cloud computing applications account for most of these, ranging from customizable CRM (customer relationship management) applications for managing customer accounts to marketing automation tools to streamline communication, and proprietary applications developed specifically for an organization’s needs.
Other applications designed for enabling BYOD include programs that differentiate a device’s functionality, access to outside programs, and even user dashboards based on whether the user logs in as a business or personal user. These applications essentially turn a single device into two devices: one for personal use which prohibits access to company data and stores that data safely out of reach should the device be hacked during personal use; another that does the reverse under the company user profile.
Common misconceptions and critiques of BYOD are continuously overcome by savvy developers who create logical solutions to most of the potential issues noted.
Is BYOD taking over? It seems so. Statistics show that companies are adopting BYOD at an ever-increasing pace, even discontinuing company-supplied device programs. As technology continues its rapid growth, BYOD only continues its path to the most logical mobile solution for most modern enterprises.