Everyone from administrative staff to IT experts owns a smartphone nowdays, and chances are they use it for more than just checking Facebook or texting. If you're out of the office but you've got work to take care of, at some point you're likely to have dropped that smartphone out to answer a work email or review a document. It's a productivity powerhouse in your pocket.
IT experts have seen a boom in personal mobile technology affecting business, as more and more employees use their phones to connect to the enterprise network. Employers are realizing that they can leverage the explosion of mini laptops, smartphones and tablets, because their employees already have a sophisticated way to stay connected even when they're out of the office with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, where a personal phone is used as an employee's primary work phone as well. A BYOD policy grants employee-owned devices anytime, anywhere access to their company's networks, systems, and enterprise data.
When employees already have the devices, employers do not have to pay to provide them and then hire a staff of IT experts to deploy them. And usually what an employee shells out for a personal device is going to be a much fancier, higher-end piece of equipment than the company budget can swing.
And now employees do not have to juggle work and personal technology, or be an IT expert in order to figure out how to work a brand-new, possibly complicated device; they get to use the fancy devices that they are comfortable and familiar with, which boosts their satisfaction and productivity.
However, as the BYOD becomes standard in workplaces of every size, IT experts warn that there are some security concerns to consider:
1. You no longer have control over the hardware your employees have and how it's used
2. It's legally complicated to devise an acceptable use policy when it has to cover both private and company data.
3. Many different devices on many different operating systems and data that is both secure and insecure can be a security headache for your on-staff IT experts. How do you keep up to date on critical security patches? How do you secure and support so many different devices?
4. Data ownership and safety becomes a complex issue to navigate. Your confidential enterprise data needs to be locked down on and on employee-owned devices that range the spectrum in security features and processor capabilities, that can pose even more issues.
5. When an employee is fired, their device goes with them, and so does their access to your network if you're not careful.
6. And if an employee is let go? They take that device with them, along with access to your company's infrastructure, if you're not careful.
BYOD offers major cost savings for employees. You do not need to shell out the cash out front to buy, deploy, secure and upgrade devices to hand out to your workers. It also saves money in that employee attrition is reduced. When employees are satisfied, they're happier and more likely to stay. And BYOD has been show to increase employee satisfaction to a great degree.
While security issues are a concern, they can be handled and circumvented. Mobile technology security is a growing field, with third party IT experts developing applications that help make BYOD secure by separating work and personal uses of the employee's phone on the same device, for instance. Training your employees on data safety as well as maintaining and keeping abreast of critical updates can also go a long way towards improving BYOD security.
Most importantly, you need to set up a clear and concise acceptable use policy and security requirements, as well as mandated security and enterprise apps for accessing enterprise resources on the network.