The phrase on every CIO’s lips at the moment seems to be Bring Your Own Device. This is not a new phenomenon but a growing trend for employees to use their own device, be it their iPad, their mobile phone or their own lap top, for work purposes.
Whilst BYOD can provide a world of opportunities, IT managers have realised that plugging unauthorised devices into the company’s network presents security and management risks as well as a number of other hidden costs.
Do the benefits outweigh the costs?
For some companies, BYOD can significantly reduce technological costs by shifting the hardware cost to the user, exploiting the fact people become proficient in using their preferred device thus reducing the time, resources and cost of training.
BYOD is predominately associated with flexible working and depending on which sector you work in, could provide a range of benefits for the employee. However flexible working can be seen as part of a wider strategy for a business which blurs the lines between business and home life.
What are the costs?
The influx of additional devices on the company’s network, particularly Wi-Fi may cause a decrease in network performance and increase in costs, possibly leading to a need for new systems.
So, who pays the bills for device usage? That’s difficult to say since complex remuneration processes may lead to a significant increase in work load for finance teams validating claims.
It is also challenging to forecast costs and manage cash flow. Although perceived as more challenging for smaller firms, the impact on companies with thousands of employees can also be a serious headache.
Businesses also need to consider whether they have enterprise applications that can actually run on a BYOD policy; the majority simply aren’t configured for it.
Last but not least, the cost of a breach of data can be considerable. Security is the biggest challenge when it comes to BYOD, but this can be negated by focusing on three areas;
- Segmenting data by roles, so employees have the right level of access according to their roles and position within the company;
- Encrypting data to minimise risk when devices are out of the office
- Having a plan in place for what action must be taken when the device is compromised, because it inevitably will be
Having a clear company policy on Bring Your Own Device is vital. Sage believes it is important that people have the right tools to do their job effectively and this can only really be achieved if the IT department fully manages the devices used by employees. However, the final decision as to whether BYOD is the right policy for you or not, should be at your own discretion.
Stuart Lynn, CIO Sage UK and Ireland