Some enterprises have realized for some time the cost savings of implementing a business strategy that allows employees to use their own personal devices to access corporate network data as well as resources like email and applications. Yet many businesses have been slow to adopt BYOD policies and processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. Many companies were forced to include a BYOD strategy as workers suddenly migrated to remote locations, resulting in newly created hybrid work environments.
All of which brings into focus the future of BYOD in the workplace and key business considerations associated with the use of these devices. Among those factors are the implementation of new security tools and policies for remote access to corporate data, what types of consumer devices and hardware to support, establishment of a BYOD onboarding process and the costs incurred from instituting these procedures.
How popular is BYOD?
BYOD has exploded over the past year and changed how employees expect to do their work. New users are entering the workforce with the expectation of being mobile, and part of that mobility includes using their own devices instead of company-owned devices. BYOD enables more flexibility in how, where and when employees work and collaborate.
Factors influencing the future of BYOD
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages enterprises need to consider when implementing a BYOD policy.
Reducing costs while incurring others. Shifting costs to users can free up IT resources and corporate budgets, but it's important to establish just who is responsible for supporting BYODs, including items like cellular data. By accessing corporate resources on their personal devices, employees increasingly expect their company to pay them a stipend to supplement the cost of data access.
Increasing worker satisfaction with less security risks. Employees typically prefer to use their own mobile device. They're familiar with the operating system and how to use it, reducing the need for corporate training. They can also customize their experience, resulting in greater satisfaction. The challenge for IT is how to ensure that corporate data is accessible and secure. Supporting multiple devices with different operating systems can be difficult for many IT teams trying to balance BYOD user privacy and security. The future of BYOD includes building out policies and using technologies like mobile device management (MDM) that support employee-owned devices and ensure security.
Balancing privacy and security. Many employees have the "Big Brother" view that IT can see everything on their device, which is not necessarily the case. Apple and Google have addressed what MDM tools can and can't see on devices that are enrolled in a company's MDM process. But suppose a device is lost. The device is not the corporation's responsibility, but the corporate data on that device is. Technologies like MDM enable IT to remotely wipe away corporate data on devices. If users are not educated on some of these capabilities, privacy concerns could ensue. Ensuring the future of BYOD in the workplace includes building transparent policies that educate employees on what activities and device information the company can and can't see on personal devices and how MDM technologies will be used to enforce data security on BYODs.
It's not about bringing your own anything. As a large number of employees continue to work from home, many companies are finding that not every BYOD can be supported in the same way. Many times, BYOD policies fail because businesses allow their employees to use any and all devices, including outdated Androids that don't have proper support for modern MDM policies and Windows devices that are running end-of-life operating systems like Windows 7 or Home Editions. BYOD policies need to include the type of devices a company can support. Varying operating system versions and patch levels can directly affect a company's security and data control.
What does the future hold for BYOD?
BYOD will continue to grow among employers and employees. Successful implementation depends on how to best introduce BYODs to corporate resources and streamline the process for users. Technologies like MDM will enable IT to securely distribute corporate applications, email and resources to BYODs.
The challenge for many IT departments is the process of getting that information to these mobile devices. The responsibility for device training and support typically falls on the shoulders of IT. That means IT teams will have to start building appropriate policies and documentation that entail device enrollment, BYOD support and device troubleshooting paths for users.
The following considerations can help ensure a successful corporate BYOD policy.
- Device requirements. To secure company information, it's often required that BYODs meet specific criteria for accessing corporate resources, including minimum mobile operating system versions and certain device manufacturers.
- Lost, stolen or damaged devices. Even though corporations are not responsible for the loss and replacement cost of BYODs, the corporate data on the device is a company's responsibility. Employers need to inform employees that corporate data could potentially be remotely wiped from their device.
- Privacy. Make your policies transparent, so employees understand what activity and data the company can and can't see on their devices, while emphasizing the importance of user privacy and protecting their personal lives.