BYOD - Still a thing?
The conversation on bring your own device (BYOD) in the workplace has been going on for a while and it's obviously more common in some sectors than in others. Opinions among security experts on whether or not BYOD is a good idea depends upon who you talk to. What is clear is that organisations may want to at least consider a BYOD program. Why? Because not only do many employees use their personal devices for work anyway, studies show that they're more productive when they're allowed to.
Reports of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)'s death have been greatly exaggerated. BYOD has been declared dead so many times over the years that most people have lost count. Even the Enterprise Mobility Exchange asked if the days of having a BYOD policy might be finished, and declared it was not.
Although corporate- owned personally-enabled devices (COPE) have increased in popularity. BYOD still has a massive presence in the enterprise. Just as there are businesses that ditch a BYOD policy for COPE, there are also organisations that make the switch back to BYOD.
BYOD has its disadvantages and risks, as enterprises are often tasked with securing and managing these devices. Nonetheless, to suggest that BYOD is dead is simply not reflective of the current state of enterprise mobility. BYOD isn't going anywhere. To put the rumours of BYOD's death to rest, below are five reasons as to why BYOD is still well and truly alive.
1. There are cost savings
Despite the rising costs for maintaining at BYOD environment with solutions that include mobile device management (MDM), BYOD is still an incredibly affordable option for many enterprises. In fact, BYOD can curtail particular enterprise mobility costs in telecommunications, training and hardware. A study during 2018 found that an enterprise with up to 10,000 employees can expect to save up to 11% every year with BYOD by shifting mobility costs to the employees. This depends on the scale of your organisation- this can be worked out through a mobile cost calculator. In an age with enterprises looking to reduce technology expenses, a BYOD policy still makes a lot of sense.
However, whilst the cost reduction from a corporate point of view is great, will all your employees be willing to invest their own money in mobile devices? Some will already own them, but others won't. Many employees have grown to expect employers to pay for certain technologies and may not appreciate having to handle that aspect on their own.
2. Improvements for IT flexibility
In enterprises with corporate- owned devices, IT departments are sometimes stretched thin due to certain employees being tasked with device maintenance, training and support. However, with a BYOD policy, employees are maintaining their own devices, which allows the IT department to dedicate more time to focus on their own tasks within their own job.
When businesses begin to offer BYOD, it enables employees to work away from the office whilst still being able to access the system over the internet. There is no need for an employee to be in the office to carry out their work, they can work remotely wherever, whenever. If this applies to enough staff, it is possible to use smaller office premises therefore cutting the cost of business rates, utility bills and maintenance. It also enables companies to offer more flexible working conditions which are better suited to those who need to work around particular hours.
3. Employees are more productive and satisfied
Employees are a lot more productive as it can be very time-consuming and discouraging when employees are forced into managing both their work and personal devices. A 2016 CITO Research study conducted on behalf of Apperian resulted in significant findings that purport the effectiveness of custom applications for enterprises and their link to improved employee productivity. A single mobile phone that is set up for both work and personal activities could relieve this problem. A BYOD policy also provides employees with the option and flexibility to choose a device for work which best fits their needs. It would be detrimental to force an iPhone user to rely on an Android phone for work, and vice versa. According to a Jamf survey, 68% of employees are more productive and satisfied with their work when they get to choose their technology.
Additionally, there has been a steady increase in the number of freelance workers in recent years, which are expected to use their own devices and software, even when contracted to work on-site at an organisation.
4. The market is growing
Whilst reports suggest a decrease in the BYOD market, statistics prove otherwise. After being worth $35.1 billion just three years ago in 2016, the BYOD market is estimated to grow to a whopping $73.3 billion by 2021. Part of the reason that the market is growing is because BYOD is still prolific. A 2018 study by Oxford Economics found that only 17% of enterprises provide mobile devices to employees, where as 31% only rely on a BYOD policy. Another 52% of enterprises follow a hybrid approach by offering both corporate- owned devices and BYOD. As a result of this, up to 83% of all enterprise still have BYOD as a viable option.
5. New security options for a BYOD policy
Security is one of the biggest concerns with BYOD. Employee- owned devices could be more vulnerable to hacking and the organisation's data could be at risk. In more recent years, there have been solutions created that have made BYOD safer and easier to maintain. Some of their solutions such as SaltDNA which allow employers to control which of their employees get access to the solution on their BYOD device to send end-to-end encrypted messages and carry out encrypted calls to chosen, trusted users. BYOD policies have also forced a lot of enterprises to rely on more cloud computing for data storage, which can be useful in the long-term.
Although, on the other hand, some employers may see this as a complete lack of control. The number one disadvantage of a BYOD policy is that it limits corporate control. When dozens or even hundreds of different devices typically made by different manufacturers and running a variety of programs routinely pass in and out of a company's doors, you're much more susceptible to viruses and hacking. Businesses have to make sure all their phones, tablets, and computers are up to date with reliable security programs, on an ongoing basis, which can be a costly and time-consuming effort when you have to work with employees' personal devices.
How BYOD has changed
Whist BYOD is old news for sectors like technology and universities, here are some interesting ways it is evolving:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) - These days, everything from printers to watches to smart refrigerators to miscellaneous office equipment is on a network. 8.4 billion connected "things" were in use worldwide by the end of 2017, with 30.7 billion predicted to be in use by 2020.
- Choose your own device (CYOD) is growing in popularity. This variation of BYOD allows businesses to offer their employees a choice from a pre-approved list of a company-owned and managed devices that they can use for work, typically IOS or Android.
- Market change - As more and more jump on the BYOD trend and encourage it with partial subsidies their focus will be on devices that themselves offer a certain big-brand promise of reliability and performance. This will lead the market towards giants like Apple and Microsoft. Both companies have a controlled, easily synchronized environment and a reputation for enterprise focus.
If you don't currently employ BYOD at your organisation but you're considering it, or you're looking to improve your program, here are some tips.
Mobile devices are essential to business performance, and companies must find ways to unlock the full value of their mobile strategies. Relying on employees to provide their own mobile phones has cost benefits in the short term, but other costs add up over time regardless of the device-distribution policy, and providing some or all employees with mobile phones delivers value in numerous ways. Assess which groups of employees would benefit most from employer-provided devices, and what tools and workflows are needed to facilitate collaboration with BYOD employees.
If you are not already taking advantage of the BYOD movement, you should definitely consider it. However, be aware with all these pros come a few cons. Wireless network security and the overload of mobile devices on the wireless network system are some of the main concerns for many different companies.
If you have any questions about this article, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd be happy to assist you in any way.
SaltDNA, ranked in the top half in the Cybersecurity 500, provides a fully enterprise-managed software solution that enables absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. The SaltDNA Desktop and Mobile apps are intuitive and easy to install and use. The SaltDNA Communication Manager provides a console for tight management of users and can be configured for the management of regulatory compliance. SaltDNA is headquartered in Belfast, Ireland, for more information visit www.saltdna.com.