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Onkar Singh

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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The benefits and challenges

“Bring your own device” (BYOD) is a new trend whereby companies allow their employees to bring their mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) to work and allow them to be used for business purposes and to access the company network and data. It’s a part of consumerization-of-IT wave that has started to gain serious traction in the last two years. A recent survey has all the numbers.

BYOD Benefits

  1. Employees are more comfortable in using the device of their choice. They don’t have to use two devices anymore, one for personal and one for business work.
  2. With a BYOD program in place, companies can avoid making investments for purchasing the devices, e.g., a company with 100 employees will usually spend $400 per smartphone or tablet with a total cost of $40K. All that cost is now saved and so is the overhead and additional cost of commissioning, asset tracking and maintenance of the devices.

BYOD Challenges

  1. With BYOD, employees will store personal and business data on a single device. It's a challenge to ensure that the business data is protected.
  2. Companies need to make sure that the devices are secure, i.e., password policies are applied and data encryption is enabled. Normally users are not careful with their personal devices but companies can't afford risking the loss of business data in case the phone is lost or stolen.
  3. People tend to change gadgets as soon as something new and fancy is available. Employees will be upgrading to newer devices faster than ever. The IT department has to keep themselves updated with new technology trends to ensure compliance goals are continually met. IT needs to move faster than the employees. Good Luck!

These challenges can be alleviated to a large extent by using mobile device management tools (MDM). The overall cost for deploying these solutions is much lower than the cost of the devices.

Where BYOD Won’t Work
BYOD model does not work in all cases. Some businesses want to super-secure the devices and restrict employees to use only certain applications or want the worker to access only a particular website on the device and nothing else. Of course the employee will want to have the freedom to play Angry Birds or browse news website once in a while on her “own” device. In such cases it’s better to provide a company-owned devices to the employees.

Conclusion
BYOD is a new trend that has made deep inroads into the financial services sector and looks promising to hit other domains as well. It could be beneficial to both employees and the employer. A well-thought-out IT strategy around policy-based deployment, security, and management of “personal” devices is a pre-requisite for rolling out the BYOD program.

Let us know what you think about BYOD. Will it work?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Onkar Singh

The author is the founder of 42Gears, developer of affordable Mobile Device Management tools.