The Impact of BYOD on Your IT Dept.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 4:31 PM

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It's really not a good idea, on so many fronts, to let employees "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) to work.  By this, I refer to employees buying and using their personal smart phone and/or tablet at work, in many cases, to do work.  Some of the inherent challenges include productivity loss, security risks, data loss, liability risks, and device management challenges.  

Sure, it saves money to let employees spend on the devices.  And, the need to be mobile is growing. Forrester Research predicts that as many as 60 percent of information workers will work in a location away from their office during a typical workweek. Mobility is key to the future.

Mandating that employees own specific company-approved devices won't get you very far in many cases. Phones are kind of like cars. Employees pick the device that represents their personality, fulfills their needs, and feels good to use. If an employee chooses their device, the IT group will struggle to keep the large number of disparate devices supported and up-to-date with the latest company policies and apps.

Also, IT guys are used to three to five year upgrade cycles with laptops and desktops. Most people upgrade their phone about every eighteen months. This constant flux will keep IT hopping.

What's more, mobile device users are accustomed to installing apps ad hoc, anytime.  The iTunes Store and the Android Market have programmed us to be on-demand driven. Employees will hope to do the same and IT will have to manage updates just like iTunes and the Market.

Malware protection and antivirus solutions exist, but they haven’t been widely used yet. If you allow employees to BYOD, that usage policy needs to change.

In addition, your organization will need to govern what types of data can be stored and used on an employee's mobile device. Consider how easy it is to lose your customer list or your patient's health history.  What happens if the phone or tablet is lost or stolen?  Can you lock it down to avoid data loss?

BYOD is going to have to be managed in the very near term.  We are looking for and developing solutions to resolve the challenges mentioned here.


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