Clear policies and user education enable effective BYOD

Bring your own device has been all the rage in recent years, ever since iOS and Android smartphones and tablets entered the mainstream. Although modestly powered compared to a modern desktop PC, these devices have many built-in advantages over older hardware, including high-resolution, pixel-dense displays, 3G and 4G LTE cellular connectivity, and excellent portability.

Still, there are some key considerations to make when adopting a BYOD strategy. Are devices properly secured? How much will it take to support each new endpoint? There are plenty of options out there for organizations seeking to make the most of BYOD and overcome common obstacles related to security and cost.

BYOD has solid momentum, raising the stakes for user education and sound implementation
One of the biggest benefits of BYOD is that it potentially frees the organization from having to shoulder the costs of additional hardware upgrades, since each user supplies his or her own device. On top of that, the freedom and flexibility conferred by BYOD can translate into new business opportunities, such as ones for sales teams that need to make presentations or access corporate data while on the road.

“BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades,” stated Gartner analyst David Willis. “The benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction, and reducing or avoiding costs.”

Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of all businesses will require employees to adopt  BYOD, in hopes of achieving these benefits and others. Setting up and enforcing BYOD policies could save companies a lot of money that would have otherwise gone toward building dedicated networks and procuring compatible hardware.

Solutions such as desktop virtualization have come to the fore alongside BYOD, making it increasingly possible to provide a consistent operating system experience to every device within the organization. Vendors such as Samsung have also created device-specific security suites designed to ease BYOD management.

Ensuring security and productivity with a BYOD strategy
It is important to have an actionable plan in place before implementing BYOD. As ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes pointed out, a seat-of-the-pants approach usually does not work since companies can run into trouble trying to ensure that, for instance, assets are not moved from the internal network to public-facing cloud storage services.

Instead, companies have to train employees on using BYOD-enabled hardware responsibly and regularly reinforce guidelines. More specifically, some considerations for a sensible BYOD policy might include:

  • Guidance on how to deal with lost devices
  • What happens if a BYOD user leaves the organization
  • Listing of what company data, if any, is governed by regulations

Ultimately, BYOD is an exciting opportunity for organizations, but one that must be approached with care. Common sense and technical know-how can transform employee devices into valuable company assets.

“We are now entering a period of transformation,” Samsung Telecommunications America vice president David Lowe told FierceMobileIT. “It started out with clients being very reluctant to support mobility in their enterprise, trying to figure a way to keep it out. We are now in the transformation stage where enterprises are finally embracing it. That’s where the real innovation is going to come.”