How to weigh BYOD benefits and risks
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While there are risks, some potentially far-reaching BYOD advantages, such as cost savings and improved mobility, will help BYOD become the norm in corporate end-user device provisioning in the near future.
With the rise of the smartphone -- driven by the phenomenal success of Android handsets and Apple’s iPhone -- end users have been able to select handsets that match their specific needs and personalities. When on-the-go access to email defined enterprise mobility, BlackBerry devices got the job done for mobile workers, but they fell out of favor. Coupling slick marketing and tons of apps, iOS and Android have reshaped the mobile device market and made their way into the workplace.
One of the most notable bring your own device (BYOD) advantages is that it lets organizations eliminate capital spending on large numbers of handsets that end users really don’t want in the first place. End users bring their personal devices to work, so why not take advantage of that? With a few polices, a little user education, some management software and new training for support and helpdesk staff, the potential for cost savings in BYOD is enormous.
Organizations can even reach agreements with employees on service-reimbursement policies that make both parties happy. For example, employers might pay a fixed percentage of end users’ mobile bills, a fixed dollar amount per month, or even keep track of call and data usage and pay accordingly. Regardless, in almost any organization, it won't take anything too onerous to get BYOD working. Government agencies and other highly regulated organizations, however, should use caution when it comes to their BYOD programs.
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Another BYOD advantage is that it supports a mobile and cloud-centric IT strategy, which can have far-reaching benefits. Within organizations, it’s all about the data. Increasingly, IT strategies that emphasize cloud processing and storage, collaboration and device independence are replacing the old-client server model of copying data to a specific machine for local use.
With collaboration especially, users need to be able to store and edit data in the cloud and access it from any compatible device. Today's handsets have the browsers, application support, processing power (for graphics and security) and interfaces that can make users productive at work while preserving all the consumer functions that create the appeal in the first place.
Take all of this together, and organizations have a pry-from-my-cold-dead-hands kind of challenge before them. BYOD is likely already happening, whether it's been authorized or not, but when you manage BYOD properly, it isn’t really much of an issue at all. These BYOD advantages make it a clear win-win for all involved.