Mobile devices are everywhere, and businesses are waking up to the realization that in order to truly take advantage of them, they must consider a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy. It’s certainly an easy thing to ask your employees to bring in their personal devices, but the actual process of adopting a BYOD policy can be a complicated one, filled with obstacles and setbacks if done poorly. Many companies are definitely thinking about making BYOD part of their organizations. According to a 2014 survey from the LinkedIn Information Security Community, nearly a third of businesses are considering BYOD. If Gartner’s prediction of having around half of organizations require employees to use their own devices holds up, many of those companies considering BYOD will likely adopt it. But the important question isn’t, “What is BYOD?” or even “Can BYOD be effective for your business?” In reality, the question you should be asking is, “Are you prepared for BYOD?” With so many organizations hopping on the BYOD bandwagon, it’s a question that can’t be ignored.
Adopting BYOD when you’re not prepared can lead to many problems further down the road. The issue that requires the most attention is that of BYOD security. Employees using their preferred devices may provide greater productivity and job satisfaction, but BYOD also introduces more possibilities of security threats in the workplace. The same LinkedIn survey mentioned above shows that loss of company data is the biggest security concern organizations have. If your company doesn’t have a strategy in place to protect your data with the addition of new devices into the workplace, then you’re likely not ready to adopt BYOD. Questions over who should have access to specific systems and types of data should also be answered to prevent confusion once BYOD becomes a reality.
To adequately prepare your organization for BYOD, you need to have the right security tools on hand. That means having data encryption available and password protection on all your most sensitive files and systems. Malware protection is also critical, especially since employee behaviors may inadvertently introduce malware into the network. Equally important is mobile device management (MDM) software, so IT workers can better manage and keep track of each device that’s being used on the company’s network while also more effectively managing the apps on every device. Passing up these important steps is merely inviting more trouble as BYOD becomes more widespread.
Your business also needs to be ready for the latest trends in mobile technology. Tablets and smartphones with large screens (sometimes called “phablets”) have become all the rage and will likely make their way into the office at some point. As popular as they have become, organizations that want to make BYOD work will have to contend with some of the issues this trend has accompanying it. The most concerning is the amount of data the latest mobile devices use. A study from Citrix shows that iPhone 6 Plus users end up using double the amount of data that iPhone 6 users do. When compared to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 6 Plus owners use ten times the data. If you’re thinking about adopting BYOD, your budget planning should take into account the larger data plans necessary to accommodate the use of these larger devices, especially considering data usage will likely only increase as time goes on.
More devices at work also means more demands on your network. To prepare for BYOD, you’ll need to ensure your network has the bandwidth and access controls necessary to deal with the flood of new devices. BYOD may also place an extra burden on IT departments, at least at first. Your staff will need to understand the challenges and expectations that they’ll encounter. Employees also need to know what their responsibilities are when they’re using a mobile device for their jobs.
A thorough examination of these questions can help you identify if you’re truly prepared for BYOD. If your employees know their proper roles, the network is ready for more workloads, security is improved, and data plans calculated, you’re likely ready for all the benefits and challenges BYOD has to offer. Making BYOD work is an ongoing process, one that requires re-evaluations on a routine basis. As you become familiar with BYOD, you’ll always be prepared for current demands along with those that will appear in the future.