Bring your own device (BYOD) is no longer a trend (clearly). We’re well beyond the practice of it being called a concept, but a fact of life for nearly every business organization in the world. BYOD is not only the norm, it’s the standard for how business gets done and how employees remain productive. Given this fact, organizational leadership no longer must ignore the phenomenon but how to safely employ such a strategy.
Strategy as a foundation, begin with IT infrastructure
Let’s imagine that many IT managers are less than enthusiastic about BYOD, for a variety of reasons. For one, while your employees want to use their own devices, they don’t want their employees having control of said devices. Therefore, BYOD comes with huge privacy and mistrust issues. Your people identify with their devices – it’s like a soul connection and is deeply personal -- so allowing even partial control of the device can seem aggressively invasive.
Additionally, employees want to focus on their work without them being tracked through GPS, and they certainly don’t want their bosses knowing their app and internet habits. Also, with BYOD strategies, organizational-sponsored walls are not often trusted. These walls can be too easily breached, employees feel, meaning information on the devices can theoretically easily be wiped. There’s also the perception by employees that the more security roadblocks put in place, the more cumbersome the device and the less it feels like “home.”
Given these reasons, you can see why IT managers and their teams are often averse to BYOD policies and their corresponding procedures. However, continuing in the vein that BYOD is a reality in your organization, you’ll have to ask if it is possible to safeguard company data if employees use their own devices. It is clear that the IT infrastructure will have to be adjusted if you decide to introduce BYOD. It is important to ensure that confidential data remains confidential and that you won’t want to make their entire internal network available to everyone.
Likewise, more mobile devices being used within your organization can affect the mobile infrastructure and your IT data center needs to be prepared for this. Desktop virtualization can provide one solution that allows you the ability to centralize your desktops and applications, and support and protect devices from one location. This will resolve any potential safety issues.
Supporting your colleagues, an obvious assignment
BYOD will also affect your organization’s service management. Here’s why. You’ll have to decide to what extent you will support your employees, which devices you are going to support, and you must decide if you’re only going to support basic services, such as email, or other applications. However, it also may be worthwhile to support important services, such as applications that generate turnover: a CRM system or service management applications. Also, you may wish to grant internal users access to extra services like an intranet or network.
In regard to BYOD policies, you could, conceptually, tell your employees that they cannot use their own devices while on the job and that doing so would mean the devices are not going to be supported, but people very much like using their own technology, even when in use for professional services, whether they are permitted to do so or not. Granting employees access to basic services and a number of crucial extra services provides excellent support and prevents you from having to tackle tricky issues with your technology. As such, it may make the most sense for you and your organization to provide some control of any BYOD policies by providing support for at least some of the most popular devices used by your employees.
Establishing a transparent BYOD policy
Even though BYOD is well established and a concept mostly understood, there are still many organizations that have IT policies that are not yet tuned into the BYOD movement. If you’re going to move forward with such a program, you’re going to have to spend time considering how you’ll manage it, the devices and the employees using them. In so doing, you’ll need to take into account privacy and security risks and provide reasoning for why it’s important to formulate a clear and effective policy as quickly as possible. Among the policy procedures, you’ll have to register who can use which devices, and to what extent, as well as indicating who is responsible – you or your employees -- if a device is damaged or lost, or if confidential data is lost. In the event that you employ a BYOD policy, to protect your organization’s data, you might have to consider containerization technology, which allows you to contain the organization’s data on the device, and wipe that portion of the phone should it ever get lost or stolen. That’s a conversation for another piece at another time, but it is worth noting here.
Additionally, you’re going to have to determine who pays for license costs, and the levels of support your employee users can expect. However, a good policy is not enough: you will also need to train your employees. In so doing, you must ensure that your employees know how to handle the BYOD policy, new processes, and software. It is especially important to train your IT department so that they can provide support for the various devices as needed, and explain the program when asked about details.