There are a few industries – unlikely as they may be – that are leading the charge in bring your own device (BYOD) adoption. According to a 2011 report, finance and health care industries dominate the BYOD picture. Wow! Two industries that experience some of the strictest federal regulation and steep compliance fees are the most forward thinking when it comes to bring your own device policy adoption. (For background reading, check out BYOT: What It Means for IT.)
Of course, this high adoption rate within the health care industry and all its verticals is not without risk. Information Management reports in "BYOD in Health Care: A Unique Range of Risk," that for companies in the health care sector, developing and implementing a BYOD program means careful planning and development to comply with security standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
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But despite the challenges for all kinds of industries, bring your own device is a growing trend that many companies will have to address soon – if they aren't already. Here are five things everyone should know about BYOD.
- Users Pay, Employers Save
Although there are plenty of gloom-and-doom predictions when it comes to embracing BYOD, there are a few benefits companies often overlook. But when employees pay for devices, voice or data services and other associated expenses, companies can save big money, as much as $80 per user per month, according to Tony Bradley at PCWorld.
And in terms of value, there’s another benefit for companies: improved employee satisfaction. According to Cisco, when BYOD policies allow employees to choose their own beloved devices, those employees tend be pretty happy with that kind of choice and flexibility. As for productivity, Intel found that it gained 2 million hours of productivity over a year when it rolled out BYOD to 10,000 employees.
- All Technology Use Policies Are Not Created Equal
If a company hasn’t given the official thumbs up for employees to make use of their own devices to manage work-related activities, it’s likely that employees are doing so anyway. That can be a big problem.
In "Legal Implications of BYOD Part II," technology lawyer David Navetta indicates that "in many (or most) cases, an organization already has certain policies in place that may relate to or address some BYOD concerns. Companies considering BYOD need to review these existing policies and determine if they impact their BYOD strategy and policy development."
According to Navetta, the crucial concern is consistency between existing policies and BYOD policies. In other words, the policies already in place about the acceptable use of social media, mobile security policies, encryption, passwords, wireless access policies, incident response policies, and human resource policies and handbooks may or may not cover what's going on with employees' personal devices.
Although policy-based controls are effective insofar as employees choose to comply, technological controls such as mobile device management software should also be considered.
- Companies Need the Right Mobile Device Management Solutions
Doing a quick search on mobile device management reveals plenty of options. Regardless of whether a company decides to go with Airwatch, FancyFon or IBM, the MDM software must support more than a single platform – and iOS is a must.
For any organization that plans to adopt a BYOD policy, if the MDM software does not support Apple iOS and everything else, then it's unlikely to be a solution that will work.
The ability to secure, manage, monitor and support mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and portable computers is key. And a good strategy here will include ensuring that all these devices are password protected, that applications can be distributed wirelessly and that the devices can be wiped if they are lost or stolen.
MDMs come in on-site and cloud-based solutions. Additional criteria to consider when vetting potential MDM vendors include functionality, security features, vendor support and flexibility. (To learn more about how employees are pushing BYOD policy, check out this infographic: IT Ninjas Embrace BYOD.)
- BYOD Doesn't Mean Do What You Want
When it comes to data security and BYOD, consider these statistics from "Enterprise Mobile Security: Rock Solid or At Risk,"
- 61 percent of workers use social networking services not supported by their IT departments
- 43 percent chat on non-supported IM services
- 26 percent employ their own online collaboration tools
- 70 percent of all enterprise data resides on a mobile device
- A compromised data breach runs about $258 per record for mobile devices
When it comes to developing data security standards for a new or newly recognized BYOD work environment, companies should do what it takes to ensure they're covering their bases. This means that BYOD policies should include:
- Mandatory password-based entry
- Remote wipe
- Access to safe, quality apps that can be accessed based on roles and privileges
- BYOD Can Mean Getting Into the App Business
Technology managers in the private and public sectors are quickly coming to the realization that BYOD includes applications too! Enter your friendly corporate app store.
Creating custom mobile apps gives an enterprise the ability to develop and deploy mission-critical mobile apps that can improve productivity and give employees secure, real-time access to corporate information. Now more than ever, mobile companies are offering development platforms that allow enterprise-level clients to leverage their business-centric software for use on end-user devices.
The strategy is simple: give enterprise the ability to quickly develop and deploy mission-critical mobile apps that can improve productivity and give employees secure, real-time access to corporate information. It only makes sense. Many of the mobile apps available publicly contain malware, and managing enterprise mobile devices with hundreds of apps absorbs precious time and resources. (To learn more, read Company Apps: The Next Frontier of Office Software?)
Since the uptick in BYOD – known in some circles as "bring your own disaster" – there have been some interesting policy changes in recent years. For example, nearly two-thirds of businesses surveyed have adopted the BYOD trend, and are allowing employees to use their mobile devices as a corporate desktop to access organizational data. What this suggests is that if you haven't been affected by BYOD yet, this growing trend is on its way to a work place near you. Are you ready?