BYOD – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Ton Baas
Posted by Ton Baas on May 26, 2013

Enterprise Architecture, Governance, Risk & Compliance

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Bring your own device, bring your own technology, bring your own phone or IT consumerisation (respectively BYOD, BYOT, BYOP). Whatever you want to call it, anno 2015 everybody knows the concept of bringing your privately owned device to access company information and applications. This was thrown in high gear with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, making it impossible to imagine a working world without the concept. However people stand divided regarding the effects of BYOD. this blog we discuss the good, the bad & the ugly regarding BYOD – leading to the conclusion that it is all about a good BYOD strategy, policy and plan how things work
out for your organization.  As we always like to finish on a positive note we’ll start with the bad and the ugly and finish with the good.

The Bad

There are some definite downsides to BYOD. Of course there are ways to counteract these downsides or mitigate them, but be aware of the following BYOD pitfalls in your own company.

  1. No financial control: without being able to manage the contracts and device types a lot of companies have fallen prey to oversea charges, family plans and termination fees. Next to this, instead of paying for the device, your organization now pays for expense reports (if you still want to have some insight in the behaviour of your employees) – which can add up as well.
  2. Out of compliance: there is enough regulation regarding data and privacy protection. Not everybody knows if their BYOD policy is compliant with that – which could lead to serious fines.
  3. Confidential information: setting apart that BYOD makes it easier for employees with bad intentions to take confidential information with them, BYOD also has a serious problem moving information to the (unprotected/public) cloud instead of the network. Famous apps such as Dropbox can (and will) be used – mostly without bad intent – to store sensitive corporate data.

The Ugly

Some aspects of BYOD are ambiguous, reports and research suggesting that it could go either way. They tend to get ugly if left unattended,  or controlled too much. All in all; try to find a balance between freedom and control.

  1. Productivity: about productivity both supporters and opponents of BYOD have something to say. On the one hand giving people free reign in using their device of choice can lead to higher productivity – the device of your choice integrates work with private life, making your employees be constantly up-to-date and accessible. Next to that new employees are already up-to-speed on all the ins and outs of their favourite device, saving them time to learn the tips and tricks of a phone issued by their organization.

On the other hand having your personal device as a working tool makes it easier to leisurely access apps – games, social media or personal contact, without being able to monitor this behaviour.

  1. Trust: the same goes for trust. As an employer you need to trust your employees to do  their job properly. This has been true since the dawn of time, but certainly is strained with the uprising of BYOD. Giving out of hand control to your employees can work both ways (it gives them a boost to perform even better because their boss regards them as trustworthy, or it gives them the means to slack). However there are still some misconceptions regarding what can or cannot be monitored. Either way a trust-gap, legitimate or not, is always a bad case.

The Good

As promised we t• to finish on a positive note. BYOD isn’t all bad (or ugly for that matter). A multitude of BYOD benefits can be brought within the right environment, giving your organization that little extra it needs to serve the market in a more flexible way. The following things are part of that positive note given that your company is equipped with the right tools and personnel for BYOD.

  1. Diminish cost: in general the costs of a BYOD program is shifted to the user. With the employee paying for (most of) the hardware, this could save a lot of money if taken across multiple employers.
  2. A satisfied employee: allowing your employees to use the device they like and know, instead of ones issued by the IT department, it isn’t miraculous that BYOD will improve work-satisfaction.
  3. State-of-the-Art: another big advantage of letting your employees bring (and buy) their own devices is the modernity of their devices. Generally BYOD leads to faster refresh cycles as employees who bring their own devices update their hardware way more frequently. This means that generally the devices create higher productivity and gives access to the latest features and capabilities.

It’s all about the plan

As we’ve seen in this blog it shows that BYOD has many pro’s and con’s. However what is key to all aspects is a proper approach. If you communicate with everybody involved, draw up a solid plan (together with legal, IT and finance) and execute on it, BYOD can bring you that bit of flexibility and speed to overtake your competitors. In any case, stay open and transparent and make sure you are aware of any regulation you need to be compliant to. This wraps up all the things you have to consider implementing a BYOD policy. If you have any ideas, suggestions or experiences with BYOD that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

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