We keep hearing about BYOD (“bring your own device”), but what is it, exactly?
BYOD is part of an overall trend called the “consumerization of IT” that not only includes BYOD, but other ways in which consumer applications and tools are being introduced into the workplace – think Google Apps, Dropbox, and Skype.
BYOD specifically refers to the use of an employee’s own device (smartphone, tablet, or PC) in the corporate environment. BYOD provides many benefits to companies that implement effective programs including:
- Employee Productivity: Employees are already expected to be available everywhere and at anytime. Allowing them to connect to the corporate network from their personal devices gives them greater flexibility, and enables them to be more productive without having to be chained to their desks. In fact, more than two-thirds of companies have experienced increases in employee productivity and customer response times as a result of their BYOD programs, according to a recent survey conducted by Dell Software.
- Worker Satisfaction: Consumers tend to buy the latest and greatest gadgets instead of the more economical ones typically purchased by IT departments. Employees get to play with new toys, while their companies benefit from access to the most advanced features and apps without having to do massive hardware purchases or bulk software upgrades.
- Lower Costs: With a BYOD model the cost typically shifts to the employees as they take on the burden of hardware purchases as well as their monthly premiums. Although some companies provide monthly reimbursements, this does not apply everywhere. Indeed, in a survey of 100 companies, Good Technology finds that employees pay their entire premiums at 50% of the firms with BYOD policies (76% of the 100 companies support BYOD policies). Device maintenance can also be a source of cost savings, as employees are more motivated to take the initiative and repair their lifelines. As a result, support calls tend to be lower.
However, despite all these benefits, some companies are still hesitant to adopt BYOD, often citing the following reasons:
- Security: This is the biggest risk, particularly for compliance-heavy companies such as those regulated by PCI, HIPAA, or GLBA. With unprotected devices being introduced into the company’s network and the need to lock down data if a device is lost or an employee quits, security is not a negotiable concern.
- Support: Some companies are also concerned about increased requirements for IT support. But because employees are motivated to take care of their own devices, support needs are likely to decrease.
- Logistics: Provisioning, monitoring, and app deployment all raise questions about how BYOD will play out.
Fortunately, there are mobile application management solutions that enable companies to overcome these risks and take advantage of the benefits of BYOD.