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The big buzz about BYOD

Aaron Serrhat
Bring-your-own-device; B.Y.O.D.; bee-yod… however you want to say it, there’s no escaping the huge trend that has infiltrated working environments across the world and industry sectors. With the consumerisation of IT, smart devices are now owned by a massive percentage of professionals and as a result the BYOD trend has flourished.

But what exactly is it?

Well, as the first line suggests, it refers to when employees of a business bring their personal devices into work – such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop – and use it for both personal and professional purposes. Employees can usually connect their device via a secure corporate network and access business servers, email accounts and other systems in order to get work done on the move and without numerous devices to hand.

BYOD isn’t a new concept…

Just as technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, the concept of BYOD has as well. Whilst enterprise mobility may not have been such an important concept ten years ago, now it most certainly is. In fact, without mobility, many modern businesses are finding themselves trailing behind competitors – and BYOD is one relatively easy practice that can be introduced to help rebalance the scales and empower businesses in 2015.

Don’t be fooled, though.

While BYOD does seem like a sure-fire way to ensure business success, it does come with its own challenges. A Gartner survey discovered that 40% of US employees use BYOD for work-related activities, yet 75% of those didn’t gain official permission from their employer, meaning that IT security teams have a lot on their plate keeping data safe. Things like tracking data management and data compliance can be hard with a mobile workforce, and the use of malicious apps, hacking threats and lost or stolen devices can all make BYOD seem like more hassle than it’s worth.

Nevertheless, as stated, there are many rewards that come with BYOD, too. Along with more mobility comes increased productivity, engagement and in some cases a lowering of costs.

So how can it be implemented?

Those businesses that have weighed up the pros and cons and decided to embrace BYOD (which, let’s face it, is the majority) have had to come up with a pretty robust implementation strategy. Without such a strategy, be prepared for BYOD to bring-your-own-downfall (see what we did there?).

Firstly, businesses need to think about the objectives of their BYOD programme – what they want it to achieve and how that can be done - but they also need to consider the employees who will be in charge of the devices – what will work best for them? Think about different programmes or mobile apps to be used and what devices will be supported under the BYOD programme. Security is obviously also a huge concern, so things like passcodes, network access and access to sensitive information or data encryption must be considered. It’s also probably best to have a user agreement in place for if a device is stolen, lost or an employee leaves a business.

But where is it going?

BYOD is going big; there’s no two ways about it. It heralds a huge transformation as to how businesses operate; it’s due to empower the workforce and challenge IT departments. But it is also changing who enters a business, with the concept changing hiring processes. Now, thanks to access to various corporate services, employees can help employers by using their devices to gather referrals and pass them on to the relevant teams. With social media also playing a huge role in the hiring process, but certain sites only accessible from mobile devices, BYOD can help expand the talent pool as well.

Not only can BYOD assist with the hiring process internally, it is also a very alluring element for external candidates; it indicates a progressive company attitude but, more importantly, that they also trust employees.

BYOD can bring-your-own-downfall if not utilised correctly, but it can also bring-you-ongoing-delight.

Read our related blog: Mobile technology - Evolution and predictions for 2016
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