The bring your own device (BYOD) movement is picking up steam, according to experts. Information technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. predicts nearly half of all businesses will require their employees to use their own devices for work by 2017.
While smartphones are one of the most common personal devices employees are opting to use for work-related purposes, tablets and laptop computers are also popular. As with any trend, there are pros and cons to employees supplying their own technology tools.
What factors are fueling the BYOD trend?
There isn't a single factor that is contributing to the rise of the BYOD movement. Some people simply prefer to use their own electronic devices because they know exactly how they operate. Others like the idea of having everything they need, whether it is personal or work-related, all in one place.
A couple of other scenarios are that an organization simply does not offer employees desired electronic equipment or the company requires workers to supply their own tools.
Why is the BYOD trend a good thing?
BYOD can be good for an organization if employees are using their own electronic devices by choice. If one person prefers using his or her iPhone and another a BlackBerry, they can do so, rather than being forced to use whatever is being offered by their employer. A happy workforce results in lower employee turnover and higher productivity. Some research, for example, indicates employees may even spend more time working when they are allowed to use their own devices.
What are the major concerns with the BYOD movement?
Employees supplying, and therefore paying for, their own devices, seems like a win-win situation for organizations. Up-front there may be some cost savings, but it can be more expensive for IT to manage such devices, and there are major security issues employers need to be cognizant of.
When an employee brings his or her own device to work, there is a risk of data leakage and a lack of control by the enterprise. Also, organizations have to think about what happens when a worker is no longer employed by the company. Is it possible the former employee can still have access to private information?
Some types of organizations, such as those in the healthcare industry, have to be particularly up-to-speed when it comes to BYOD because of all the sensitive electronic data at its disposal.
How does an organization go about creating a BYOD plan?
Devising a BYOD plan starts with creating a policy, some experts suggest. A solid BYOD policy should outline basic standards, such as what the company versus the employee owns. It's also a good idea to lay out what level of support the organization will provide for personal electronic devices. Just like rolling out a new application or software development, it will be necessary to test out the plan and tweak as needed.
What lies ahead for BYOD and the enterprise?
One of the biggest challenges on the horizon of the BYOD landscape may continue to be management. The BYOD trend is making it more important than ever for mobile applications to be secure, requiring IT teams to ensure that whatever applications they make available on personal devices have appropriate encryption and other security features.
Another challenge will be cost, of course. As BYOD policies evolve, there needs to be a clear-cut decision of who pays for what. Does IT help support employees using their own devices or only those provided by the company? Should employees be allowed to choose their own devices and then get reimbursed? Who gets to keep such devices once an employee leaves the organization? These are just a few of the questions business leaders need to consider when thinking about how to proceed with a BYOD plan in the workforce.
About the author:
Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in September 2013