VoIP and Cloud Computing have revolutionized the modern workplace, helping businesses to become leaner and more responsive to their customer’s needs and expectations. The very nature of these services has helped to build a more mobile workforce, able to service clients from anywhere in the field, all while remaining in constant contact with home base. Mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and wi-fi enabled laptops, are at the heart of this new mobility. These internet ready devices have been a boon to businesses, and have been eagerly adopted by the general public. This has led many business owners to adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) attitude to the workplace. Allowing, and sometimes encouraging, employees to use their own smartphones and tablets both at the office and in the field. But is this always the best attitude to take to mobile enterprise management? Like any major business decision, there are pros and cons which must be carefully weighed before BYOD becomes standard procedure for a company’s employees.
The Pros of BYOD
From the outset, adopting a Bring Your Own Device policy for the workplace appears to make good business sense. In fact, BYOD offers some distinct advantages for the business owner.
- Cost Savings – This is perhaps the most attractive advantage offered by a BYOD environment. Employees who rely on their own mobile devices for work assume the total cost of those devices, including the original purchase price and any necessary data plans. Company issued devices require a significant financial investment on the part of the business. Implementing a BYOD policy allows business owners to save a considerable amount of money on hardware.
- Increased Productivity – Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, allow sales personnel to stay in constant contact with the office, while effectively serving clients in the field. Data and can be accessed while on the go, and management is never out of touch with their employees. The speed and convenience offered by mobile devices helps to make for a more productive workforce.
- Employee Satisfaction – People choose the mobile devices they do for a reason. These are the devices that they feel most comfortable with, and that they find intuitively easy to operate. Encouraging employees to use their own mobile devices allows for a greater level of employee satisfaction. Tech savvy employees are also more likely to upgrade their mobile devices, allowing businesses to take advantage of new technology without the need for a major financial investment.
The Cons Of BYOD
By now, the pros of BYOD should be looking pretty good. However, there are some disadvantages to a Bring Your Own Device environment, and they should not be ignored.
- Security – Security concerns should be foremost in the minds of business owners who have adopted a BYOD policy for their employees. Personal devices may be lost, stolen, or hacked, and that could put the company’s private data at risk. It is important to make certain that all employees using their personal devices have adequate security measures in place before adopting a BYOD policy for the workplace.
- Inconsistency – With BYOD all employees are in control of what data and applications are stored on their devices. This can sometimes create compatibility issues across a wide range of different devices and platforms.
- Lack of Control – With company issued devices business owners have total control over how the device is used, and what data and programs are stored on it. BYOD does not allow for the the same restrictions.
- Compliance Mandates – Businesses that fall under certain compliance mandates, such as HIPAA or GLBA, have certain responsibilities concerning the safeguarding of specific data. Those responsibilities must be extended to all mobile devices, including those owned by individual employees.
- Protecting Proprietary Information – In the event that an employee is discharged, or takes a position at a competing firm, retrieving proprietary data from a personal device can be difficult. Businesses operating a BYOD environment should have a policy in place that covers retrieval of all company data if, and when, an employee leaves the firm.
There is a definite trend in the business community towards the Bring Your Own Device work environment. While it does offer many distinct advantages, there are some important disadvantages which business owners must consider before allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work. If you have yet to establish a BYOD policy for your business, consider the pros and cons carefully before allowing your employees to access data and applications through their own personal mobile devices.