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Posted February 04, 2016 by A-Jay Orr

BYOD Policies: Why You Need One and Where to Start

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve hopefully heard of BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. BYOD is when an organization allows employees to use their own smartphone, laptop or tablet for business use. What’s in it for them?

BYOD Advantages

  1. Employee’s prefer it. They’d rather use their own device (one they specifically chose for themselves and already know how to use) than some IT-issued device that forces them to learn a different operating system.
  2. Organizations remain up-to-date. It’s too expensive for an organization to constantly invest in the newest device on the market. Employees more regularly update their devices, which simultaneously benefits the organization at large.
  3. Organizations save money. BYOD transfers the cost of mobile devices to the user and eliminates the need for organizations to invest in expensive equipment for their workforce.
  4. Mobile devices enhance productivity. When employees are equipped to do their jobs on the go, business doesn’t start or stop at the office door. And because employees are already familiar with their own devices, organizations can skip the on-boarding and more right to more efficient communication and collaboration.
  5. IT can de-stress. With BYOD, employees are responsible for the maintenance and up- keep of their own devices. This frees your IT department to focus on more pressing matters.

Sounds amazing, right? Close to it. But there are some substantial drawbacks that organizations must also consider.

BYOD Disadvantages

  1. BYOD borderline infringes on privacy. With BYOD, the line gets slightly blurred between personal and business information. Many employees are on board with it. But some feel uncomfortable using the same device for work as they use to surf the web or interact with social networks at home. They fear their company may be spying on them, or capable of gaining access to their personal passwords.
  2. Employee devices can be distracting. When employees are permitted to use their own device at work, business tools exist alongside their personal email, social media accounts, games and other non-work related applications. This makes it extremely easy to get caught up in activities that normally wouldn’t be accessible at work.
  3. If you learn nothing else from this article, learn this — BYOD is capable of putting your organization at major risk for security breaches and/or data loss. Every employee device is a weak point in your organization’s infrastructure, especially when employees download apps and music, or connect to public wifi or hot spots. And if your employees store business information (including email) on their device, and that device is lost or stolen, company data could end up in the wrong hands.

For these reasons, it is absolutely imperative every organization that allows BYOD take the necessary precautions to minimize risk. They must create a BYOD policy that governs utilization and expectations.

Where to Begin?

CEOs need to consider how an influx of devices suddenly accessing the network will impact the network’s ability to perform. BYOD has a lot to offer, but only if your organization’s infrastructure is designed to support it. To successfully pursue a BYOD program and minimize risk, the first thing you should do is consider working with a virtual CIO. A vCIO specializes in BYOD implementation and will ensure seamless strategy development, roll-out and continued management.

  • Step 1: Determine Eligibility

    Who will be permitted to bring their own device and utilize it for work? Obviously, there are some roles you can discount from the program, like the receptionist. Categorize participants and outline their specific mobile device needs, including which applications they will want or need to access from their device.
  • Step 2: Choose Devices

    Apple, Android, Google, Samsung...which will be permitted in your BYOD program? Your vCIO and/or IT department will need to know exactly how many devices and which operating systems they use to determine minimum requirements for each OS.
  • Step 3: Assess Infrastructure

    You need an infrastructure assessment to identify and correct any areas that do not support a BYOD-compliant environment. A vCIO specializes in these types of assessments, and will pair your business with the necessary solutions to bring your infrastructure up-to-snub (while also taking into consideration your business budget, goals, and sustainability needs).
  • Step 4: Develop Standards and Expectations

    Clearly and concisely outline in a document who is allowed to use their own device, which devices are acceptable, exactly how they may be used and what responsibilities each employee has related to the handling and care of their device. This includes:
    • Maintaining an updated OS
    • Regularly changing passwords
    • Downloading required securities
    • Business data storage rules
    • Expectations/responsibilities if lost, stolen or broken
  • Ensure every employee gets a copy of the policy, reads and understands its contents, and signs a document stating they have read and agree with the terms outlined in the policy. Your company should also implement routine checks to ensure devices are up to date and all standards are being consistently met by each participant.

It’s a lot of preparation, but when done correctly a well secured and supported BYOD program can help businesses remain competitive without additional overhead costs or serious IT headaches.