Bring your own devices (BYOD) policies with unbalanced advantages and disadvantages in an organization sounds like cancellation of weekend plans subsidized with organizational tasks in awry. Despite its set of advantages and disadvantages, BYOD’s global growth in mobility ownership as predicted by Global Market Insights states that the adoption will grow by 15% annually in the US by 2022¹.
Looking from the point of view of the organizations for curbing as much cost as possible and improving the productivity with better end-user experience, the question of data threats and security still remains. No doubt, it calls for the framing of BYOD policies from top to bottom for balancing the pros and cons.
Before analyzing the pros and cons in detail, let’s first understand the ownership model of BYOD as defined by Techopedia²:
“Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to employees who bring their own computing devices – such as smartphones, laptops, and tablet PCs – to work with them and use them in addition to or instead of company-supplied devices.”
The model typically indicates an employee bringing their personal devices like phones or laptops for operational and business purposes in the office premise wherein the employer decides monthly remunerations for the data and usage plans along with other related expenses for offset costs. However, not informing the employees about the potential data security threats while using their personal devices for work can be a costly affair.
There are several advantages that the organization can sign-up for by allowing the usage of BYOD by employees but if the usage of such devices is not free from contingencies, it might create problems.
Wondering what are the pros and cons of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in detail for your organization? Read on!
Advantages of BYOD setup in a workplace
1. Sense of belonging
It is obvious that the workforce in the organization will feel inclusive and more participative as soon as the organization allows using personal devices for work purposes at the premises. Introducing this culture imbibes the will for active participation by the workforce and boosts the level of productivity with exponential outcomes.
Is it measurable and transparent?
As per research conducted by the Social Market Foundation, employees who are a part of the BYOD culture in an organization have seen a sharp increase of 20% in their productivity level apart from their malcontented counterparts³. The implementation of BYOD in an organization might yield a better return on investment as an added advantage from its workforce, yet the unfavorable probability will weigh more when it comes to data breaches and compromises.
2. Thriving productivity levels
Implementation of BYOD practices, its policies, and frameworks on the office premise have statistically proved to yield a sharp rise in productivity levels by the workforce.
But is there any way we can prove the theory with practical examples? Here are a few statistics compiled for you:
As per the reports by Dell4, 61% of Gen Y and 50% of workers over 30 years of age believe that the tech tools they are using in their personal lives are more effective and productive than those which they have already used in their work life.
Frost and Sullivan5 state that using personally acquired portable devices for work saves 58 minutes per day while increasing productivity by 34% overall.
A survey by ITProPortal6 mentions that a BYOD policy-enabled workforce contributes an extra two hours and sends more than 20 emails each day with a better response rate.
It is evident that BYOD is widely being accepted as a new normal transition for better workforce productivity and enhanced operational outcomes.
3. Company cost-saving
Buying workstation-friendly devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and other peripheral verticals to contribute to the operational cycle by the workforce is a costly affair. Also, there is a probability that your workforce might not be familiar with the models of devices or the OS you are deploying for operational inputs.
The organization might have to introduce training sessions to procure the best possible inputs from the workforce using the managed devices. Also, there is a probability that you might not be able to yield the best possible operational outcome even after spending a significant amount of money to procure and deploy the managed devices. This is because the workforce might still have second thoughts in experimenting with, learning and using the unfamiliar devices in the initial phase.
Here, BYOD plays a major role not only in enhancing the level of productivity but also saves you from making significant investments in corporate-owned hardware. BYOD can play a vital role in areas such as communication, training, and support. It is one of many touchstone decisions that can contribute to better engagement and transfer of new working ways with effective outcomes by the workforce.
4. No worry about upgrades
In the above point, we have mentioned that implementing a BYOD policy in a workplace can be a cost-saving measure since the devices used by the employees are the ones that they are familiar with in and out. Apart from these factors, the other advantage that BYOD offers is that organizations need not worry about incurring any significant costs for upgrading devices to the latest models.
In the BYOD scenario, it is natural that the workforce will be using their personally-owned device to execute their organizational operations rather than the corporate-owned devices. Now, most individuals prefer to upgrade their phones as soon as new technology hits the market, which might not be the case when it comes to organizations. Now, since the workforce will be upgrading their phones more frequently, they will be exposed to better technology and the organization can scoop this opportunity to yield those upgrades and acquire better productivity skills.
Disadvantages of BYOD in a workplace
1. Unfamiliar devices and their technology
Every pros come with cons attached and it will only be visible while weighing both with a balanced eye. The implementation of BYOD might not always be an advantageous slope. There will always be unexposed concerns while consenting the workforce to use personal devices at work and for work. One such con is the lack of consistency and uniformity.
In an organization, every workforce will use different personal devices which will operate on different OS platforms. There will be a mix of Android, iOS, Mac, or even Windows users in the same team. Some will use email clients with varying email providers. If one is using the latest innovative technology, others might still have backdated platforms wherein the unexpected operating concerns can crop up. To collaborate and execute their operations, team members may be required to learn different OS platforms and also explore the contingencies of fixing the errors as and when they arise without proper knowledge.
This can only be prevented if the entire team members are using the same devices so that the hassle of execution of work such as directions, SOPs, and critical information exchange is streamlined without disruption. However, the end-user will have to bear the cost, not the organization.
2. Data security concerns
Data security concerns are the prime and foremost potential security threat attached to BYOD policies in an organization. Until and unless the framework can define the parameter on how the organization can curb such instances once it occurs, it can open windows of disaster for data compromisation or leak. The frameworks designed by the company have to explicitly define the usage of organizational business-critical data and how the BYO devices can secure themselves from potential threats. However, these models are not full-proof and are a disadvantage over the actual implementation.
If the organizations deployed managed and dedicated devices, they will have more control over the usage of the device, have security layered on critical assets and data control. However, it is entirely impossible to monitor and manage personal devices which are more prone to risk with a minimal level of control.
3. Privacy of workforce assets
Another disadvantage that BYOD has in the corporate domain is the risk of privacy and security on unmanaged devices. It’s the pain point for all the organizations that are yet to implement the BYOD policies since the unbalanced strings are yet not justified on either party. If the organizations tighten the security and limit privacy or vice versa, it will still reflect unilateral consideration. Even the world’s most famous social networking company Facebook7 revealed that privacy is prime to individuals at any cost. If an organization fails to satisfy the privacy factor, it might land the company’s reputation below the ground or can visibly hamper its goodwill. So, justifying the privacy of workforce assets on the personal devices for organizational operations in BYOD is still a serious concern with no correct answer yet.
Despite all the factors, even if the organizations implement the BYOD policy, the series of unanswered questions still stands. How much privacy is allowed? And what are the security measures that can be implemented consensually to both parties? Balancing the thin line of securing the corporate assets without compromising the personal device owner’s privacy can sometimes be a difficult path or even the road you might never take.
4. Different software, different devices
There is no single individual on earth who is not exposed to technology, its advancements and appreciates how its contribution has made life simpler and easier. But, we start to crib and move on to better technology or devices as soon as the present possessions stop functioning to their best.
Similarly, in the BYOD model, there will be different devices functioning in different OS and used by different persons. The only disadvantage is lack of compatibility as different devices will have the ability to support a specific version or limited capability of softwares. This makes the BYOD synchronization in the workplace a bit difficult with uncertainty in output.
Each software developed is compatible with specific parameters to run in optimum efficiency for specific platforms and also for specific devices when it comes to functionality. It can never be “one version for all the platforms” ever in any situation. In an organization, if there are 50 employees who are using their personal devices for operations, it is evident that they will have dissimilar devices catering to a different OS, and finding a specific productive software that can work for all is impossible. Even if the source codes are altered to make it running, failure of functionality while working can invite disaster and restart the troubleshooting process without the backup of lost work. However, there is no guarded solution for this con, it can yet be a major headache with unavoidable circumstances.
Weighing the pros and cons
It is evident that there are a bunch of factors that an organization has to weigh before the implementation of BYOD policies. The organization has to define such a framework wherein the unveiling of personal assets and privacy of its workforce is not hampered as well as the organizational data are secured without the certainty of breach or leakage.
Is there any better solution for the implementation of BYOD policy in an organization without much heed?
Yes, there is. Scalefusion MDM solution can help the IT admins of the organization to examine the end-point security by compartmentalization of separate work and personal profiles in the same device. This will bifurcate the mission-critical corporate assets and all the sensitive information which can be monitored with limited access to the device’s personal apps and content without hampering the personal assets of the device’s owner. Sign up now!
Ayush Maskara is a Content Writer at Scalefusion. A media science graduate, a photographer, a fiction author, a storyteller, fiction manuscript editor, and an avid self-help reader, Ayush has been penning the creative wisdom for six years and have stepped into the IT domain for further exploration and staying awake with technological trends across the globe.