For both multi-national conglomerates and corporations, the idea of BYOD, or [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]Bring Your Own Device[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]Bring Your Own Device[/tp], isn’t groundbreaking or even relatively new. They’ve been allowing their employees to utilize their own smartphones and tablets to keep in step with the company and keep in touch with their loved ones. For small companies across the United States, however, BYOD is now a hot-button topic, especially as the cost of security and upgrades becomes more expansive. If your employees are quietly demanding you allow them to use their smartphone or tablet during work hours, here are a few pros and cons of the BYOD revolution to consider before making the final decision:
Cost-Effective: Here’s a scenario that some employers may face. In order to create a sense of continuity, you’ve offered to provide your employees with cell phones. The cost of the smartphone data and calling plan, plus hardware upgrades and other incidentals, is around $75 per month. That doesn’t sound extravagant; until you multiply this number by 300 employees. Leading computer publication P.C. World points out that allowing employees to bring their smartphones to work virtually eliminates this expense for the employer.
Customization: Ask any Android lover about the platform and he or she could speak gleefully for hours about its superiority over the iPhone. Mac lovers feel the same and will be more than happy to point out why Apple is superior to a PC. Everyone loves to personalize their smartphone and tablet; implementing a BYOD policy generally makes for a happier, and consequently more productive, worker.
Benefits of the Latest Technology: Remaining on the cutting-edge of technology isn’t a cheap notion by any standard and offsetting the cost of remaining up-to-date is an excellent way for employers to utilize the latest technology without having to pay for it. Employers might even consider quietly encouraging their employees to upgrade their computer or smartphone, which they were probably planning on doing anyway.
Appease Your Workers: In the end, a happy worker is more fruitful and allowing him or her to keep a smartphone at work is a lucrative way to appease your entire workforce; especially if they’ve all been rallying for the implementation of a BYOD policy. Just be prepared to reprimand a few for spending more time on Twitter than the quarterly reports.
Privacy Issues: By far, the biggest thorn in an employer’s side is privacy. Allowing employees to keep sensitive documents on the same device their kids play Farmville on could pose a myriad of problems. Companies could spend a small fortune installing security software to protect this proprietary information, but that won’t matter once the smartphone is pilfered from the employee’s purse.
Those Costly Personal Calls: In an effort to appease their workforce, many employers implemented a partial reimbursement policy, but this is a potentially costly act of benevolence. Basically, if you offer to pay a portion of your employee’s cell phone bill, you’re paying for each time he or she spend three hours talking to Aunt Dolores in Tacoma.
A Disgruntled Employee: Several companies are bound by compliance and privacy mandates, including those set by HIPAA, GLBA and DSS. Following these rules and regulations to the letter becomes somewhat of a sticky situation after implementing a BYOD policy, especially if the employee is fired or walks away from the organization. Yes, the computer is the employee’s personal property, but data still belongs to the company and retrieving or destroying it can result in a possibly catastrophic legal dilemma.
Incompatibility: Once your BYOD policy is enacted, be prepared for the onslaught of incompatibility issues. Mismatched versions, inconsistent platforms and devices incapable of simply running the necessary software are all possibilities. Your IT staff will deserve huge Christmas bonuses once presented with this dilemma.
One Final Recommendation…
In the end, the Trend Consumerization Blog puts the idea of the good, bad and downright ugly of BYOD into perspective: [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]“Consumerization cannot be stopped.”[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]“Consumerization cannot be stopped.”[/tp] It then is not a matter of saying “yes” or “no” to the BYOD revolution, it’s about moderation and realizing that not all technological advances are suitable for the workplace.
If you’re a company in the beginning stages of implementing a BYOD policy, protect yourself and your employees by setting some clear, easily-understood ground rules. This could mean anything from creating a policy to reimburse your employees for wear and tear on their devices, to making sure that all of the company’s proprietary information stays as secure as possible, even after the employee is no longer on the payroll.
This guest article was written by Melissa Callas. Melissa has worked as a journalist, specializing in technology, for the greater half of the past decade and has freelanced for a variety of news outlets, as well as high-profile blogs. She lives in Boston for most of the year.