The BYOD revolution: Should employees be allowed to bring their own device?

By Adam Turner | April 5, 2013

In today's tech-savvy workplace, it's no longer uncommon to see employees using multiple personal devices in the office. However, letting staff bring their own gadgets to work might create more problems than it solves.

We're so in love with our shiny smartphones and tablets that we demand to bring them into the office rather than rely on the clunky old tech provided by the boss. It seems like a win-win situation - staff get to use the latest and greatest gadgets, while the business doesn't have to foot the bill. Yet proceed with caution, as BYOD can create more problems than it solves.

Is BYOD right for your business?

A successful BYOD program starts by asking why staff want to use their own devices and which business resources they need to access. Do they need to access emails, calendars and contacts? How about the ability to edit documents, access cloud services and collaborate on projects? Are your IT systems designed to support such access, both in the office and beyond? Should your BYOD push be part of a wider mobility program? Once you've answered these questions, you'll have a better idea of how to proceed.

If you're simply looking to access emails and contacts then a device-agnostic cloud service might meet your needs. Alternatively, Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync is compatible with a wide range of devices and offers a certain level of control over the end device. Some of the latest BlackBerry devices are also compatible with ActiveSync, while BlackBerry Mobile Fusion supports Apple and Android devices.

Keep the workplace secure

The trend is moving away from mobile device management in favour of simply managing secure access - particularly if you're looking to access documents and other sensitive business resources. If this is the case, you might consider the range of secure apps and services that go one step further. Some create a secure container on the device, while others securely stream data to devices but don't store it locally.

One of the advantages of these alternatives is that they offer the option of selective wipe should a device should be lost or fall into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, ActiveSync only offers all-or-nothing remote wipe of personal devices that may contain precious personal data such as family photos.

Have a BYOD policy in place

This issue of remote wiping highlights the complications involved in bringing personal devices to work. A detailed BYOD policy is essential, addressing questions such as:

  • Who is responsible for the bill, for both calls and data?
  • Who is responsible for keeping the device secure?
  • Does the business have the right to remotely wipe devices?
  • Who is responsible for repairs to broken devices?
  • Does a consumer-grade warranty and service meet the business's needs?

Has your business embraced BYOD? What pitfalls have you encountered?

 

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