To BYOD or not to BYOD—that is the question that dominates internal communication departments around the world and sparks fires of discussion all over the Internet. It has been called many things: a trend, an IT manager’s nightmare, and a revolution. However, recent data suggests that “inevitable” is the better way to describe it.
So, what is BYOD?
BYOD encourages company employees to work on the device they choose – accessing corporate email and text documents on their mobile device. The ultimate goal? Increased productivity and reduced costs.
As many IT departments struggle to keep up with yearly technology changes, employees increasingly want to use their own devices to access corporate data. This includes mobile phones, laptops, and tablets which encompasses similar Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) and Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC) initiatives. All of them have evolved to empower workforces through the so-called ‘consumerization of IT’.
Why BYOD matters
Mobile communication has been a best practice in our private lives for some time now, and the trend is flooding the corporate environment, it should be no surprise that the driving force behind BYOD is a new IT self-sufficiency among employees who already own and use personal devices.
These mobile devices are often newer and more advanced than the equipment deployed by many departments. More and more companies are establishing mobile-first internal communication channels and are asking themselves which devices serve them best.
More than 50% of UK companies have already aligned themselves with a BYOD policy, and an additional 15% plan to do so within the next 12 months.
BYOD benefits and advantages
It is easy to imagine scenarios in which both workers and their companies can benefit from BYOD – from the sales representative who has access to custom CRM solutions from his or her iPad to the marketer who has a “eureka” moment in the middle of the night and can immediately pull data from the company’s latest survey for the next advertising campaign.
However for companies with high numbers of non-desk workers, the discussion around BYOD is especially important. Allowing a remote workforce to use their own devices enables companies to bridge the communication gap between desk-bound employees and their non-desk counterparts.
There are some key advantages to operating a BYOD strategy, including increased employee satisfaction (they can work more flexibly), cost savings (reduced hardware spend, software licensing and device maintenance) plus productivity gains (employees are happier, more comfortable and often work faster with their own technology).
- Greater productivity: No need to train your employees on how to use their own technology. Studies show that BYOD can lead to increased productivity as they’re more familiar with the layout and technology. 73% of executives stated that BYOD increases efficiency in the workforce.
- Enhanced flexibility: Depending on the job role, it means that you can tap into all the benefits of remote working and ensure that your workforce has access to the solutions they need no matter their location.
- Better employee retention: Not only does BYOD help companies to attract millennial talent to the workforce, but it also ensures that they’re more likely to stick around too, thanks to the promise of better wellbeing. A Samsung study found that 78% of workers feel using a single device helps them to maintain better work/life balance.
- Minimal investment: Instead of investing in endless new agile technology, you simply upgrade your software on the cloud.
BYOD can be easily integrated into the lives of your employees. This enables greater work-life balance and leads directly to higher productivity. This, of course, means that employees face a certain trade-off with BYOD: they get better and more information to help them do their jobs, and it’s available via the most familiar channel, but their private lives will sometimes be invaded by work. This is a compromise which many workers will gladly accept, especially if clear guidelines have been established that aim to minimize any discontent.
Planning a successful BYOD policy
The advent of BYOD is forcing IT departments and IT managers to develop and implement policies that govern the management of unsupported devices. Network security is paramount and once you have decided that employees are allowed to bring their own devices to work there are questions that need answering.
Acceptable use: How is personal use handled? Should any websites be blocked? Should the camera and video function be disabled? Are there areas in which the WiFi has to be deactivated? Do you need to determine a list of forbidden apps? Should there be a specific policy for texting? These are the questions that need to be addressed.
Security: Measures must be taken in order to avoid unnecessary security risks. Ask your IT department and set guidelines for password protection, user session times, and rules for downloading content. Also, consider limiting access to company data and consider the content you make available.
Risks and liabilities: Make it clear from the start that employees are expected to use their devices ethically, and that disciplinary actions can be taken for noncompliance with company policies.
Devices and support: BYOD covers a large array of devices, it might be helpful to determine which ones are allowed. There must be at least one contact person and the exact level of support should be clearly defined.
Once the various policies have been agreed upon, maintaining these depends on an organisation’s ability to educate its employees on best practices, implement effective device management and support, and ability to enforce them. Creating a sound BYOD program must be a collaborative effort between an organisation’s employees, IT and security teams, and management
Why Consider BYOD at all?
The rise of BYOD is inevitable. We’re beginning to face an era where people are ready to adopt this form of working. Ubiquitous operating systems, devices, and server-side processing architecture make adoption of BYOD much easier. Cloud storage and SaaS models mean that it’s also much cheaper to ensure internal governance. From a business point of view, BYOD is quicker and more cost-effective. Many industries have started to realise that the generation of tomorrow requires the latest technology, and delivering that on a Capex basis could be very expensive.
Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by the end of 2025, and Baby Boomers are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. The trend of catering to Gen Y’s preferences is set to increase, and BYOD could be the most cost-effective way to embrace changes in an OPEX fashion. While the cost of BYOD has always been cheaper than launching enterprise-owned device networks, 2018 has launched a new era for cost-efficiency. Providers are more frequently offering BYOD services and support through the cloud, delivering scalable solutions customers need instantaneously. The cloud also ensures that better data storage is available for both in-office and remote workers, allowing everyone to have access to the same software and space regardless of what their individual devices might allow.
Ultimately, BYOD isn’t going anywhere and in fact, is being adopted at an incredible rate. Today’s businesses simply need to devise how to implement it in a way that suits their needs. With the right support, a strong set of software solutions, and a secure BYOD policy, businesses are able to access the benefits of a modern BYOD plan, without any of the potential negatives.
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