An introduction to BYOD for small business

Photo from Flo Tech Blog (http://blog.flotech.net/blog)

By now, you’ve probably heard about “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, a growing trend of employees bringing their personal mobile devices to their place of work and using them to access company resources like email and file servers. While this can prove to be challenging for IT departments to manage, there are some real benefits to allowing employees to work using their “home device,” including greater levels of efficiency and less need for IT assistance.

If you think about it, using your personal stuff for work purposes (and vice-versa) is nothing new – particularly for small business.  Most fleet policies, for example, allow employees a choice between a company car (which even the government acknowledges could be used for personal purposes) and some sort of compensation for choosing to simply use their own vehicle. Taking a step back, employees have been taking work home (regardless of IT policy) for centuries, and certainly in the decades since personal computers became ubiquitous. (And really, isn’t that just Bring Your Own Office?)

Naysayers will point out, of course, that security for mobiles devices, unlike cars and homes, is evolving at an incredibly fast pace. And while you might have a car stolen or a house break-in, you are unlikely to lose either at a bar.  Additionally, with hackers and malware, there are lots of ways security/privacy can be compromised without the end-user ever knowing it. Indeed, users running cloud applications can be in violation of NDA’s without a device even being lost.

But if you ban the practice, what benefits will you miss out on? Survey respondents consistently report greater levels of confidence and efficiency when users operate their “home device.”  More than simple productivity efficiency, this comfort level also leads to reduced need for IT assistance as users are already familiar with the ins and outs of their current model. As Cisco revealed in study results from May of this year:

BYOD is just the gateway to greater business benefits. Over three-fourths (76%) of IT leaders surveyed categorized BYOD as somewhat or extremely positive for their companies.

These benefits also include savings opportunities for hardware and, according to London-based Nasstar, a positive “BYOD policy brings in the SMB talent” and fosters “better workplace morale.”

And can a BYOD ban even work? In an Avande survey of over 600 business leaders and CIOs, nine out of ten respondents indicated members of their staff were already doing it (with or without company blessing). The Cisco study showed 95% of respondents in the US already allow BYOD.  As Gina Smith writes in the 10 Myths of BYOD in the Enterprise, myth 10 is preventing BYOD in the first place:

You can’t stop it. It’s game over and already happening, Virtual Works’ CEO Ed Lacabucci told me recently, and he’s right.  A wholesale revolution is coming…

What all writers suggest, is that users need:

For a good link-survey and analysis of the current writing and reporting on BYOD, see also Peter Silva’s article BYOD – The Hottest Trend or Just the Hottest Term.

What’s your BYOD experience? Are you considering it, avoiding it or is it old news?

Brook is a new contributor to RedBoard Biz

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  1. Thanks for this, particularly the link-outs. My boss has a lot of fear about people using their own stuff; this is a nice overview for him as well as some tips.

  2. IT’s headaches with BYOD don’t even have to be all that bad. With some careful planning in advance and a few common sense tactics on the part of BYOD users, such as locking phones and keeping protection software up to date, most of the risks are greatly mitigated.