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The BYOD Trend and Your Business

One way companies create a work environment that encourages employee productivity is by implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Nearly 75 percent of companies surveyed have some version of BYOD in their workplace, reports Forbes. Employees see BYOD as a perk and companies see it as a cost-savings tool.

Getting Those Devices Under Control

Digital Workplace Forum reminds us that employees have been bringing their own tools to work for years. Mobile phones, laptops, thumb drives, and now tablets and smartphones are part of the toolbox that employees use to do their jobs. Implementing a formal BYOD policy finally lets you manage the devices that employees bring to work and connect to your company’s resources.

The Benefits of BYOD

A BYOD policy puts the burden of purchase and maintenance on the employee. Instead of a company purchasing a Blackberry mobile phone for every staff and manager that uses them in their role, employees can bring whatever devices they are already paying for. The employee covers the cost of the equipment and the plan. Companies see this reduction in their expenses as a benefit.

The Company’s Expense

The cost savings may be offset by what your company needs to do to protect itself. The security of your intellectual property and computer systems is top priority on any BYOD implementation, says Mashable. You will want to know who and what is connecting to your systems and what they are doing. Mobile device management (MDM) applications help you control those devices. Among other things, these applications will:

  • Require any devices connected to your systems to be registered
  • Monitor activity of the devices
  • Monitor any applications the device uses

If a device is reported as lost or stolen, the MDM application can:

  • Prevent the device from connecting to your systems
  • Wipe any company data from a device that has been registered

Controlling Application Use

People with smartphones and tablets are accustomed to downloading applications from Google Play, BlackBerry World and various websites. This is a challenge for any company because you don’t know which applications may pose a security issue to the system. Tech Republic recommends creating your own application library from which employees can choose the software they wish to use.

To be thorough, the library should contain all applications approved for use. This includes all smartphone and tablet apps as well as any commercial or in-house developed software. Your BYOD policy can contain a procedure to allow employees to make a request for an app to be included in the library. The procedure will require your technical staff to evaluate the app for any security concerns.

Employees take their devices home with them so you have no visibility to the fact that someone’s child downloaded a game to the tablet, which also installed some type of malware. When the employee connects their tablet to your system the next time they come to work, the malware may find its way into your system. Your MDM can detect any unauthorized applications and prevent them from being used.

Education is Key

Any BYOD policy should require employees to become intimate with the details. It is a privilege for them to be able to legitimately use their smartphones and tablets with company resources. In turn, they take on some responsibility to ensure nothing is introduced into the system that compromises security.

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Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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