News, articles and opinions on the current trends in the IT industry.

Bring Your Own Device

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, which extends to computers, tablets and mobile phones, has begun to change the way businesses operate today. Consumerisation of IT has enabled individuals to use a wide variety of devices and helped build their preference regarding technology use.

BYOD has been a hot topic in the past months because many companies aren’t quite sure how to manage this growing trend. The main benefits of bringing your own device to work are:

  1. Overcoming the standard operating environment
  2. Increasing productivity and mobility of workers because they prefer to work on their own devices
  3. Reducing capital expenditures of companies

There are certainly many benefits to BYOD, but also some security issues that need to be considered before a company decides to adopt such a practice.

Key factors for adopting BYOD

Managers know that employee satisfaction is an important factor to consider.  BYOD offers a possibility to keep employees happy by letting them use the devices they prefer, while reducing costs. A recent Citrix survey reported that 92% of companies already have workers that use non-company-issued computing devices for work-related tasks.

The bring your own device policy does not have to be uniform. For example, starting with a non-company issued phone might work well for some businesses. Smartphones offer many applications that employees might not be allowed to use on company-issued equipment. Various SaaS applications, such as, SugarCRM or Pardot, could make workers more productive, but some companies don’t find it feasible to invest in the equipment. If someone already has an iPhone for personal use and can extend the use of the device to improve their ability to work, then this can be seen as an opportunity of BYOD for both the company and its employees. The flexibility and mobility offered by using an employee-owned device can enable working outside the office. This also allows for greater productivity, while letting employees choose when and how they will get their work done.

Device management costs can be significantly reduced, depending on the BYOD policy the organisation has in place. According to the (Citrix, mentioned above) survey, 50% of companies will require employees to finance their own devices and aren’t expected to experience any problems with this policy because the workers are already using different tablets and mobile devices for personal needs. On the other hand, there are organisations that plan on reimbursing their workers for some or all of the costs of purchasing a device. This approach, whereby the employer and the employee jointly split the cost can deliver a better result for everyone and represents a win-win situation.

BYOD challenges

The biggest concern regarding the bring your own device trend is the security issue. What happens if an employee leaves the company? Are all work-related files deleted from the device? A policy needs to be developed in order to ensure maximum data protection.

BYOD predominantly works when the applications are cloud-based. Whenever a client server environment exists, there is always the complication of installing the client application on the device, which could prove to be more costly and time consuming.

Cloud-based services are mainly accessed via the internet, which makes the webpage a primary authentication location. One potential way to overcome network access security is via a security token, which is used to prove one’s identity electronically. RSA SecureID is a mechanism that uses the security token, which can be either hardware or software. It is assigned to a computer user, and generates an authentication code at fixed intervals, usually 60 seconds. When the user goes to the website, both a personal identification number and a number being displayed at that moment on their RSA SecurID token, must be entered. The server computes what number the token is supposed to be showing, checks if the user entered the right one, and allows or denies access.

Financing BYOD is another important question. As mentioned above, Citrix research results show that half of surveyed companies utilise the“user pays” approach. Does this BYOD policy imply that the IT department cannot exercise any control on the device? How are they protected from viruses? What about warranty issues? And what happens when something breaks down? It would definitely result in downtime. How is this handled?

The importance of a BYOD policy

There are many questions regarding the bring your own device trend and companies are trying to come up with the best possible answers, which isn’t always simple. Each organisation should put a comprehensive BYOD policy in place, which will cover all aspects of bringing your own device and address any growing concerns in order to ensure smooth and productive business operations.