BYOD, The Little Device That Scared The Big Enterprise

Remember when BYO ended with a B and stood for Beer? Long gone are those days! Today BYO, at least for enterprises, ends with a D – for devices, data loss and dilemma.

As consumers become increasingly reliant on their personal mobile devices, large enterprises are facing difficulties monitoring their employees and upholding maximum security within their company. While an employee may not perceive the entry of their personal mobile device into their office as a potential security risk, IT departments understand that a single mobile device can destabilize an entire department (or worse) if the proper precautions are not taken care of.

The ideal (for the enterprises and their CTO’s) would be to completely ban the entry of mobile devices to the workplace. That, obviously, is not a feasible plan in an era where digital connectivity has effectively become an extension of our anatomy and personal processing power.  In fact, already in 2013 Microsoft determined that 67 percent of people used personal devices in the workplace – a number that has undoubtedly increased as the consumers dependency on smartphones increased and price barriers decreased.

David Yockelson

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David YockelsonResearch Vice President at Gartner

The Threat of BYOD For Startups and Enterprises

Employees, especially those that are in higher level positions, are expected to be available for extenuating circumstances even when away from the office. Part of that expectation includes being available on their personal devices. Therefore it is only natural that many employees consider it a given that they connect personal devices to their professional email server.

In response to many employees using personal tablets and even laptops for work purposes startups and smaller companies in particular are reducing overall costs by encouraging employees to bring their own computers, however in order to perform their job, employees often need access to company files on their personal computer – a true ‘rock and hard place’ scenario for companies that want to build a positive work environment, keep their overhead low, and still secure their intellectual property. Despite the risks this poses, Gartner predicts that by 2017 half of the employers will require the use of personal devices for professional purposes – meaning the risks will only increase.

Many security companies have been created in recent years to help enterprises combat the BYOD scare and limit cyber risks, however the fact remains that BYOD is still a major security risk – particularly for enterprises. While enterprises do not enable the use of personal devices such as laptops, and even go as far as offering employees company smartphones and laptops, those devices also pose a threat to the security of a company since employees are able to take those devices with them and increase the risk of infecting the computer or granting a hacker access when out of the office.

Enterprises, painfully aware of the fact that they cannot limit the entry of personal devices are working hard to come up with creative solutions that will limit the security threat while creating an optimal and desirable working environment for their employees.

High Risks & High Rewards Mean More Open BYOD Policies

The benefit of an open BYOD policy is clear – employees, when allowed to bring their own devices to the workplace, often work more even when out of the office or away from their desk. If using a personal laptop in the office, or if they are allowed access to the professional infrastructure from their personal laptops, the employees will often care more for the security of the device since they have ownership over the device.

Considering the fact that employers strive for increased productivity, the expectation is that BYOD policies will continue to increase in popularity, especially when considering a recent report by Cisco that showed an increase in overall happiness by employees permitted to use their own devices in the workplace. The report shows that not only are employees happier, but companies see increased benefits valued between $300-$1300 per employee – a true win-win situation. With a 96% increase in smart device use in the past two years and a 30% reduction in mobility cost, the BYOD trend is not only working – it’s winning!

Apple, one of the most recognizable names in personal devices, has been a leading figure in the integration of open BYOD policies in large scale enterprises. As the first mover in the tablet and smartphone market, the Apple name is a recognized household name and their investment in BYOD optimized devices has increased in recent years. Targeting “Progressive IT Organizations,” Apple leads the “work the way you want” trend by optimizing their personal devices for business uses. The latest iOS devices offers maximum IT security features that can be controlled on an enterprise level without limiting the freedom and flexibility the employees enjoy.

As personal happiness and optimization of the work environment increases in popularity (the happier your employee, the more productive they will be), it is not only expected that companies open their BYOD policies, it is even recommended. BYOD is the true key to connectivity – enabling an employee to use their personal device is a show of trust that often increases their level of commitment and connection to the company.