OK, so it’s the latest buzzword – BYOD. “Bring Your Own Device” trends are sparking conversations all over the IT worksphere. But in fact, it’s something that’s been happening for some time, only now it has a catchy moniker.
According to a recent survey by The Aberdeen Group, 72 percent of responding companies allowed BYOD. A similar survey from Cisco found that 95 percent of respondents allowed employee-owned smartphones and tablets in the workplace. In the two-year span between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of companies allowing phones with Google’s Android platform went from zero to 43 percent. During the same time, use of Apple’s iPhone soared from 28 percent to 66 percent.
IT managers are rightfully concerned with BYOD because it isn’t going to slow down. They will be tasked with providing the security necessary to protect their company’s data and this obviously comes with a price tag. While employee-owned smartphones and tablets may be “free” to the company, there are costs associated with allowing access to company systems and streaming data to these devices. Estimated spending on mobility initiatives is expected to increase from 10 percent in 2010 to 20 percent in 2014.
One of the positives about the cost issue revolves around ownership. Employees are usually more careful with a smartphone or tablet that they own themselves versus a company-supplied device. People tend to take care of their own property.
However, costs are only part of the equation. Cisco’s study noted productivity gains associated with BYOD and estimated that use of consumer devices added $300 to $1,300 annually depending on the employee. More productive workers are often the ones who need less support from an IT standpoint creating more value to the company. According to Garrick Ng, head of Systems Engineering at Cisco Hong Kong, “Our internal survey suggests that each worker saves 30 minutes daily with BYOD in place.”
For the most part, employees are using their technology to access corporate Wi-Fi networks for Internet access and social networking and for viewing company emails versus accessing enterprise applications. Companies that permit users full access to all business applications are the exception. But as use continues apace, businesses will be forced to consider the option.
A corollary to the BYOD trend is the increase in the number of Mobile Device Management (MDM) suppliers who offer services to IT departments to help them better manage devices that run on different operating systems. These companies do everything from maintaining an inventory of platforms and users to providing tools to allow IT departments to remotely wipe data and block access if needed.
IT managers can take the lead in this trend by collaborating with HR and legal to develop a comprehensive BYOD policy. A good policy sets expectations for both employees and the company by providing guidelines for all parties involved. According to Gartner, it is critical that employees understand the basics:
- Users must back up their own personal content on their devices
- Users must understand the limits placed upon device use by company policies and that these limits could affect their user experience
- Users may be required to forfeit their device in civil litigation actions
Fortunately, companies don’t have to go whole hog here. They can start with a basic level of BYOD, like providing work email to their employees’ smartphones, and work up to business applications.
What are you seeing in your company? Minimal levels – email only? Remote access to enterprise level apps? Or is the whole thing causing your IT team to make it BYOB instead?