Many companies must contend with the issue of determining what is the best way to provide mobile devices to their employees. Many employees express an interest in using their own devices. Some companies think that this is an easy and inexpensive way to adapt to the flexible work style of the 21st century employee. There are some financial benefits to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach: it reduces costs on things like software licensing, hardware spending, and device maintenance. BYOD also has additional employee oriented benefits. BYOD allows employees to work remotely with greater ease. It gives a company an opportunity to increase productivity and overall employee satisfaction. A survey from software and consulting company Avanade notes that 37% of organizations with BYOD policies are more likely to report improved employee satisfaction, in addition to “a greater emphasis on creativity and greater ability to solve problems.”
BYOD has been called many things: a revolution, a trend, and even the IT department’s worst nightmare. Why? Most companies who advocate for BYOD mobile policies are unaware of the potential hidden costs and complications. Although it may be cheaper to not spend money on supplying your employees with devices, it may be more expensive to recover lost devices, stolen data, or repair damaged devices. It often costs more for a company to integrate different kinds of devices and their many generations. This may also put a drain on a company’s IT department resources. Diverse devices and the myriad of software iterations associated with each device can lead to a lot of man-hours wasted on troubleshooting issues that would be easily solved with uniform company-issued devices. According to Search Mobile Computing’s report, BYOD often leaves the company’s IT department to manage and control a chaotic mix of apps, services, and device types, frequently forcing administrators to find ways to ensure compliance and data security. This is a time-consuming and costly process.
Then there is the issue of security. When determining what mobile strategy is best for your company, there is a lot to consider. For instance, what data should employees have access to on their mobile devices? What security measures are in place if an employee’s device is lost, stolen, or compromised? How will your mobile workers protect their data in public spaces? How can you ensure that your employees are not downloading apps from unknown sources and putting your company’s information at risk of a severe security breach? Why this matters: if your employees download apps that compromise the operating system, any software-based attempts to protect the data on the device can be rendered useless, including data containers and anti-malware solutions. This level of security exposure is a very expensive problem to deal with and may have consequences that are beyond monetary in nature.
When factoring how corporate data is being used on personal devices, it is crucial to consider that this can impact employee productivity in the workplace. While studies cite that BYOD leads to increased productivity, there is no real way for companies to monitor how staff members are using their devices at work, and whether their usage, both in the office and when working remotely, is for work-related activities during the workday. If employees are consistently on social media or watching videos while at work instead of performing their duties, this hardly seems like a mobile strategy that adds value to the company and its goals. With BYOD policies, there are few analytics in place to monitor what data is being used while at work or working remotely. There also is little to no ability to curb what sites can be accessed while at work because it is the employee’s personal mobile device.
While the costs of providing your staff with company devices may seem steep, the level of data security exposure and minimal corporate data controls could prove to be even more financially detrimental to your organization. Smart Data Controls and a Corporate-Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) device strategy may be a better fit. The COPE model can also help your IT department work within legal and regulatory parameters more efficiently. Regardless of the strategy you choose, it is important to ensure that your chosen device policy (BYOD or COPE) should advance the overall company mission, while placing only the absolute minimum burden on users and controlling IT costs.