A global survey by research firm Gartner predicts that by 2017, 38 percent of companies will stop providing mobile devices, including phones, to employees. Bring your own device (BYOD) strategies include any program that allows employees to select and purchase their own devices by which to access company applications and data. BYOD can be a very effective way for companies, especially small and mid-sized businesses, to increase mobile access without having to make a huge investment. However, there is a need to ensure that BYOD is part of your overall network management strategy.
BYOD Presents Challenges
The top concern of the CIOs included in the Gartner survey was security, specifically data leakage. Traditionally, when companies provided devices for employees, the model was limited to just a handful. However, allowing employees to choose their device opens the door for an almost endless variety of devices. More variety leads to more complexity, which leads to increased security risks. Simply put, a greater pool of device types creates more possible ways of data breach to monitor. Additionally, the chance of data loss increases as more devices are allowed access. Android and iPhone users have literally millions of apps to choose from, apps that can potentially send data to a third-party resulting in compromised data for the organization.
BYOD is not all about challenges. It has some tremendous benefits for organizations. First, more mobile application users within a company’s employee pool increases innovation and productivity. Employees can do much more than perform their job duties. They can submit time sheets, perform evaluations, submit purchase orders and numerous other activities via their device. Secondly, a BYOD program significantly reduces the cost of going mobile. This is especially beneficial for small businesses. The Gartner survey found that currently only half of BYOD programs are partially subsidized. As the trend continues to grow, researchers predict the number of companies that do not subsidize the cost of the device or service will increase, further reducing the cost of BYOD.
Make it Part of Your Network Management Strategy
The key to reaping the benefits and overcoming the challenges of BYOD is to include it in your network management strategy. The first piece of the strategy should be the implementation of mobile device management (MDM) software. MDM isn’t just for BYOD. It refers to software that manages the deployment of all mobile devices, including phones, computers, tablets and printers. These software platforms automatically detect devices on the network, providing data services for the end-user, keeping a history of devices that accessed the network and sending settings only to approved user devices.
The second important strategy involves data loss prevention (DLP). DLP specifically looks for sensitive company data and prevents it from being sent where it doesn’t belong. It too involves managing and protecting data across the entire network, not just on mobile devices. It helps managers monitor what data is accessed and how it is being used.
The last piece of the strategic puzzle is not a technical one. It involves creating a clear policy and communicating it to employees. Reviewing the comprehensive BYOD policy must be a requirement of all employees and included in new staff training. Be realistic. Help employees see what’s at stake and how they are involved in protecting the company. The policy should include specifics about what platforms are supported, what level of service the user can expect and what the employee’s responsibilities are.
Blue Collar Computing Inc. specializes in the IT needs of small business. Our experts can help implement your BYOD program and ensure your network security is not compromised as a result. Contact us to learn more about our services.