The rising popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) within the modern-day office culture is indicative of its growing success amongst employees. Especially, for the freedom to bring their own devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. to their workplace – nevertheless, it’s also convenient and more efficient, as they can work from anywhere. Organizations supporting the BYOD culture are also reaping the benefits as they can save the cost of investing in devices for every employee on the floor.
However, there are always two sides of a single coin, and BYOD risks or challenges are for real! Several security issues like data theft, unsupervised access to applications, and other security vulnerabilities are commonplace. Although businesses are embracing Mobile Device Management solutions to address the major security concerns, they still need a holistic view of both the benefits and the barriers while implementing the policies of BYOD the right way.
Let’s look at some of the risks or challenges to expect when you are switching to BYOD.
Despite multiple benefits, BYOD many security risks, and organizations are expected to plan and tackle them carefully to ensure its successful enterprise-wide implementation.
Security: The primary concern with BYOD is security risks. The possibility of cybersecurity breaches, virus attacks, hacks increases exponentially with each personal device being added to the organization. The risk is even greater if the device is lost or gets stolen, as there can be a breach of corporate as well as private data.
“There is a high probability of data theft and the organization has limited control over devices,” says Parikshit Kapila, Head, Escalations & Quality, International Hotels, OYO.
Investing in an effective MDM solution, registering employee devices with them to monitor data and network usage can help mitigate risks. Companies should also have clear policies to tackle BYOD challenges to ensure that corporate applications and data are not compromised. Companies should regularly appraise employees of security policies and ensure compliance. Employee devices must be wiped clean in case of theft, loss or employee exiting the company.
• Device Incompatibility Issues: Employees use a wide range of devices, which run on different platforms. So, the problems like version mismatch, conflicting platforms, incorrect configurations, incompatible hardware, unsupported apps or protocols are frequent, which may hinder the process of adopting BYOD effectively.
• Employee Privacy: To make BYOD work, an organization’s IT department may have to gain some control over the employee’s devices, like installing, monitoring or configuring MDM solution to ensure corporate data confidentiality. It may not go down well with the employees as they may feel all their activities are being tracked and personal data is being compromised. Devising privacy policies and segregating corporate and personal data can help ease employees’ concerns.
• Legal and Technical Costs: Businesses need to evaluate the legal and technical costs involved when they plan to bring on board employee-owned devices. Some issues that could arise are:
– Legally protecting corporate application and data on every device
– Cost of investing in mobile device management software
– How to address a security breach and threats like data theft and similar issues
– Who pays for the device maintenance if the device is lost or damaged during an employee’s tenure
– Legal and contractual obligations of cleaning data from employee device
• Working Hours: BYOD could be a double-edged sword for both employers and employees when it comes to remote work management. Employees may fail to log complete work hours while working remotely, which defeats the purpose of bringing in BYOD policy. On the other hand, employers may expect staff to work even beyond work hours, or respond to emails at odd times, which will ultimately demotivate the employees. So, it is important to set rules, regulations, and expectations from beforehand when it comes to implementing BYOD with efficacy.
There are several reasons why both employers and employees are gung-ho about BYOD culture.
• Productivity: According to a Samsung sponsored Frost and Sullivan white paper, users with their personally owned smartphones can save almost an hour every day at work, which implies 34% improvement in overall work productivity.
Increase in productivity could be due to several reasons:
– With BYOD they don’t have to use organizations’ outdated devices that are prone to malfunctions and longer start-up time
– Employees familiar with their devices tend to access it faster and in an efficient manner, accomplishing work in a shorter span of time
– Employees are ideally more careful and prompter in maintaining and updating their personal devices for efficiency purpose
– Tech-savvy employees tend to upgrade to the latest hardware, speedier devices with cutting-edge technology, which improves the overall performance
• Improves Employee Onboarding Time: Today’s work-force is tech-savvy and with BYOD, employees require less training to handle a device and can take full advantage of device features and functionalities to use them for task completion.
• Employee Satisfaction: BYOD increases employee satisfaction as they can use a device at their own pace and will, without having to worry about employer choice of device. They are more at ease with the usage and adoption when it involves their own devices.
• Flexibility and Autonomy: Employees have autonomy on the number of devices they have to carry to the workplace, how to use them, and utilize the ones best suited for their work purpose without having to follow up with the organization’s IT department for the latest device.
It also gives them the flexibility to work after office hours. BYOD comes with the agility of allowing employees to work while they are travelling or to operate from a remote location.
Ruchi Sharma, Senior Engineer, American Express, shares, “BYOD policy has many benefits. I can access and reply to emails while travelling. I can check and schedule my roster from the company app installed on my device.”
• Cost Optimization: BYOD optimizes cost for organizations. It will not be right to say that it totally cut down costs as they still need to invest in mobile device management (MDM) software to protect corporate data from several threats and risks. But it surely eliminates the cost of offering a separate device to every employee!
How BYOD helps save cost:
– Employees fund and manage their own devices
– Reduces technology costs as companies as providing for the subsidized call and data plans is always more economical than buying new devices
– Shifts the responsibility and maintenance of hardware to the employee
Implementing an effective BYOD policy is no longer an option. Business heads and the IT department needs to get together to chalk-out a perfect strategy that measures the BYOD risks and challenges as well as the advantages. They need to clearly outline the rules for personal device usage keeping in mind both the company goals as well as employee interests.
Vandita is a passionate writer and IT enthusiast. By profession, she is a Computer Lecturer at the University of Delhi and has previously worked as a Software Engineer with Aricent Technologies.