The popularity of Bring Your Own Device, or ‘BYOD’ schemes continues to grow. Organisations are seeing the advantages of allowing employees to use their own devices for company purposes, and are adapting their support and data management infrastructure to accommodate large numbers of varied devices.
There are many advantages to BYOD schemes, but there are also plenty of potential challenges. So will a Bring Your Own Device scheme work for your business?
What is BYOD?
Bring Your Own Device schemes allow employees to use and adapt their personal devices for use at work. For the purpose of telecoms, this would usually take the form of a smartphone. Employees then use these personal devices to access company data, emails and software. A BYOD scheme encourages employees to use whichever device they prefer, so long as it’s capable of carrying out their necessary duties.
The reason for such a strong uptake in BYOD schemes is largely due to the many advantages that come with them. From flexibility to better productivity, there are many potential benefits to your company from introducing BYOD.
Up to Date Technology
Keeping technology up to date can be a difficult and time consuming task for many organisations. There are huge potential costs to having to constantly upgrade devices to the latest versions. Having relatively recent hardware is important for maintaining security and efficiency, but companies often don’t have the financial capability to do this.
Employees however, probably keep their personal smartphones up to date. Many will be on 18–24 month contracts that grant free upgrades, and those that aren’t still most likely keep their devices relatively updated. This removes a huge cost for the organisation and leaves employees with the latest, capable devices to work from.
Another great advantage is increased employee satisfaction. Employees able to use a device of their own choosing should make be more willing to interact with it, and more comfortable working from it.
Allowing your employees this flexibility enables them to work in whichever way suits them best, and use technology that they understand and can benefit from. Better employee satisfaction also leads to increased productivity.
Happier employees are more productive employees. Giving your employees the option to use their preferred device and work by their own methods should encourage them to be more productive.
As an employer, having a BYOD scheme gives employees access to their work at all times. While you want staff to maintain a good work-life balance, employees will be able to work whenever they feel comfortable, with more opportunities for working from home or remotely when visiting clients.
Having to purchase a second device for every employee when they already have a suitable one of their own can feel counter-intuitive, and running a BYOD scheme certainly saves money. In fact, many employees would likely be perfectly happy purchasing their own device.
Money that would have been spent on work hardware for employees can then be spent elsewhere, freeing up company funds to allow for wider innovation and investment.
Challenges & Threats
All of this added flexibility does raise some issues. You need to ensure that your organisation can still effectively manage the data on employee devices and can still meet its data protection responsibilities, amongst other things.
When employees are responsible for devices and each device has different security requirements, maintaining a secure system that prevents data breaches can be far more complicated.
You will find yourself more at the mercy of your employees’ ability to keep data secure and to use their devices responsibly. Extra training will probably be required to maintain standards and you will have to account for adapting your systems to function and remain secure on different devices, running different operating systems.
Data & Loss of Control
As an organisation, you are responsible for the personal data that you store, transfer and handle. So you’ll need to make sure that this can still be done within a BYOD scheme.
The scheme must still be able to comply with your company data management and usage policies and be able to handle data in a responsible manner. Your data controller must also still be able to access data whenever necessary, which could be potentially problematic when accessing data on a personal device.
Not only that, but when an employee leaves the company, recovering and removing data from their device could be potentially difficult.
Supporting many different devices both with technical assistance and appropriate software can be potentially costly, and may even eclipse the cost benefits of not having to purchase extra devices for employees.
You’ll have to decide whether implementing BYOD will require extra support staff and how cost effective it will be to purchase the necessary software licences for different operating systems.
Is ‘Bring Your Own Device’ Right for You?
Although there are many benefits to a Bring Your Own Device scheme, it’s not for everyone. There are a few things you should consider when deciding if BYOD is suitable and feasible for your organisation.
Analyse the Benefits & Threats
The significance of each potential threat and benefit will of course vary by organisation. You should be carrying out a thorough analysis of the potential impact and implications for your organisation.
The government has produced a useful and comprehensive guide to the implications of implementing a BYOD system which can be found here.
Think about Logistics
Depending on the nature of your organisation, the logistics of implementation could be relatively simple, or very complex.
Consider how you would implement Bring Your Own Device with minimal impact on your workflow and the efficiency of your workforce. This may mean carrying out a staggered roll-out, trial phase re setting a changeover date and using temporary solutions while the change is taking place. Consider which, if any, of these possibilities would work for your business and use the assessment to decide if a BYOD device scheme would be suitable at all.
Can You Produce a BYOD Policy?
Having a comprehensive BYOD policy is essential for running a scheme successfully. You need to be able to take the time to draft, implement and train your employees on the contents of your policy.
A Bring Your Own Device policy should include employee’s rights, responsibilities and guidelines for using their device responsibly for work purposes. You need to set out a strong policy for data handling, security and legal responsibility.
So What Approach Do We Take at YTL?
If you’ve read through all of the potential benefits and costs of implementing a BYOD scheme and are curious to know more, how do we go about the process of implementation?
We always carry out a full review of your organisation and its suitability for the scheme, uncovering any potential pitfalls. We’ll also implement a compliance review and look into data protection to make sure that all of your data will remain secure and can be handled appropriately.
The key to successfully implementing a bring your open device scheme is making sure that it is put in place responsibly and by a reputable telecoms company. Carrying out a thorough review will let you know if a BYOD scheme really is right for your business.