Considerations on a Bring Your Own Device Policy and When to Use It
BYOD stands for “bring your own device”. In short, that means allowing staff members to utilize their own, personal hardware – like smart phones or tablets – to conduct their job duties. This sounds like a great way to save money and reduce management overhead, but it’s not for everyone. Like most things, there are pros and cons when it comes to BYOD, and several factors to consider when evaluating the practice for your company. As a Managed Service Provider in Metro Detroit, more and more of our clients are coming us with these questions – let’s get down to some answers!
First, we should examine why BYOD has garnered such steam over recent years. First and foremost, cutting edge technology usually starts in the consumer’s hands – not in the business realm. Users quickly became accustomed to their brand new iPhones or Android devices at home, only to be told at the office that they should use that rusty, old, less-than-smartphone. Along the same lines, an employee might use a quick, feature-rich, consumer-grade laptop at home, while their work-issued laptop had seen many owners and lacked the new bells and whistles. The proliferation of cloud-based services took all of this a step further; as the cloud became more and more mainstream and accessible, corporate data and email could be accessed from all of those new, “smart”, personal devices and not just locked down on your corporate equipment. Gradually, this has resulted in employees resisting work-issued technology and sneaking their own devices and services into office life.
There are several benefits to BYOD – usually driven by company finances and/or employees’ desire for convenience. It’s obviously a considerable savings if you no longer have to keep your inventory up with every new phone or laptop that comes out. Further, the expansion of commercial cloud services has made data so flexible and accessible that uniform, company-issued devices are no longer necessary to enable remote work. Together, these factors have pushed BYOD culture to the forefront of many industries.
BYOD also has its share of drawbacks. Allowing an employee to utilize his or her own hardware makes that hardware your problem, especially from an IT perspective. You will find your IT department or business IT provider supporting those various devices, in many cases without their prior approval. That can mean a hodge-podge of hardware and software that’s difficult to manage centrally, especially if there are no guidelines for approved devices or systems. Beyond that, the line between work-related issues and personal issues is quickly blurred; you might find your IT personnel spending a lot of time and resources fixing issues with employees’ iCloud photos or Spotify accounts, or even the consumer side of business apps like G Suite or Dropbox.
Probably the biggest disadvantages arise in the security realm. When your organization owns and controls all the devices used by your employees, you can secure and protect them to your standards, and in a uniform way. With BYOD, you forfeit at least some of that control, which can lead to some very dangerous situations. These issues most commonly arise during personnel changes. For example, if a staff member leaves the company unexpectedly, with your data on their device, you probably won’t have the legal rights to access that device to remove it. Depending on your policies and the circumstances of each situation, that could mean jumping through a lot of legal hoops – during which that data is out of your hands and subject to dissemination or manipulation.
Like most organization-wide policies, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to BYOD. Talking to your IT and legal personnel is a great place to start. The potential for savings and convenience are significant, but the practice should be approached mindfully. If in doubt, remember that Fuse is here to help – contact us any time for consultation on BYOD, remote work, or anything else techy!