The highly competitive business world is constantly striving to improve productivity while mitigating new adversities. Technological innovations have helped businesses increase their work efficiency, encouraging enterprises to deploy high-end IT infrastructure and world-class software applications. Nevertheless, technological advancements have also resulted in a more digitally interactive world, making it easy for employees, vendors and customers to get instant information on mobile devices.

Employers have to give their mobile workforce access to the corporate network to ensure business continuity. An influx of new devices in the market has led to employees bringing smartphones and tablets to work, paving way for the deployment of “bring your own device” (BYOD) solutions.

BYOD is the concept of allowing the employees to access the official corporate network and applications on their own personal devices. Modern applications allow employees access to office workspace and critical data on their personal devices using services such as email or virtual private networks (VPNs).

Over the last several years, BYOD has evolved to become more about contained corporate access. The concept of containerization for email, apps and content was introduced to help separate personal data from corporate data on the employee’s device. At the same time, BYOD has phased out to accommodate a broader set of mobile capabilities, with businesses exploring the idea of developing their own custom apps for enterprise use.

BYOD for Android

Google introduced work features for Android in 2014 to help make an employee's smartphone or tablet the perfect business tool. Android for Work (AFW) creates a separate work “container” with enterprise apps on employee devices. It sets up a dedicated work profile to handle business content without interfering with the employee’s personal data. With AFW, IT admins can secure data and ensure privacy by concentrating solely on the work profile. On the other hand, employees get to enjoy a familiar experience of working with their known device. AFW also offers flexibility to use Google Play to list and download only enterprise apps.

BYOD for iOS

Apple offers several tools and resources for businesses looking to incorporate Apple products into their workflow. Companies planning to create a BYOD mobile strategy with iOS products can design and develop custom apps as well as manage iOS devices deployed in their workforce. Apple offers over 230,000 business apps on the App Store and helps to deploy them on employee devices.

Benefits of BYOD

BYOD, if managed properly, can offer several workplace advantages:

Increase in Productivity

One of the biggest benefits associated with BYOD is that employees are able to use their own devices which they are already comfortable with. Employers can save on time and effort that would otherwise have to be spent on getting employees familiar with a new device and associated technology. By adopting a BYOD program, employees can hit the ground running, without compromising on productivity. Furthermore, BYOD programs are helpful for companies in displaying trust in their workforce, leading to higher employee satisfaction.

Reduced Costs

BYOD programs help shift the cost of hardware away from the enterprise and onto the employee. Rather than having to spend on new business-specific devices for all employees, businesses can choose to let employees use their own phones and bear all or some of the cost for data and associated services.

Up-to-Date Upgrades

Tech-savvy employees usually keep their hardware updated, which means there is less work for IT admins to ensure that all devices are kept up to date. Companies can benefit from the latest OS features and modern software packages.

Security Risks of BYOD

There are a few areas of concern for IT admins while adopting a BYOD strategy. When employees are given the liberty to access company applications on their personal phones, it increases the risk of corporate data leak. If an employee leaves the company, the personal device may still contain critical corporate data which could be accidentally or deliberately leaked, leading to business complications. Alternatively, the loss or theft of a workplace device can also put confidential business information in jeopardy. Businesses have less control over personally owned devices to ensure business standard security compliance, which could leave them open to malware attacks.

These security concerns can be easily countered with an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. Enterprises have started employing highly effective mobile security measures to safeguard corporate information on BYO devices. A robust EMM solution is usually platform-agnostic and helps to centralize the management, configuration and security of all BYO devices including enterprise content and apps. It offers both the technical abilities to streamline IT security and management as well as ensure a pleasant user experience for the employees.

The BYOD security market has grown significantly in regions such as North America and Europe. It is expected to reap $24.6 billion by 2020 and register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.3 percent for the forecast period 2014–2020.

A successful BYOD strategy must offer support for all major device types. Its mobility management solution should seamlessly integrate with AFW to allow easy implementation of BYOD for Android devices, and it should easily integrate with iOS as well. Containerization features in the mobility management application should ensure improved mobile collaboration and cost reduction, keeping the IT admin focused on the work profile apps, rather than the entire device.