By Richard Oliver, BTiNet
BYOD (bring your own device) is the latest IT buzz acronym. Although the idea’s been around for a number of years, there is a real shift towards allowing employees to use consumer-type devices in the workplace that marks a step change in the way people consume and think of business IT.
BYOD can increase the overall efficiency of a business but it can still present some challenges if its introduction into the company isn’t fully thought through. As with any rollout, CIOs and IT directors cannot take a ‘one size fits all’ approach, as the way the CEO and members of the board use and consume technology will be very different to a new graduate recruit. As a result, there have to be clear guidelines around what employees can and can’t do with devices attached to the company’s network – whether they own the device themselves or not. Just importantly, this has to be communicated to everyone internally.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, our recent research revealed that this wasn’t the case: there is confusion between employees and employers when it comes to the use of devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops in the workplace; two-thirds (68 per cent) of employers claim to have policies in place, but only 39 per cent of employees appear to be aware of them.
This was further highlighted when we asked about how the policies were communicated. Just over half of employers believe that their policy was widely communicated, compared to just 18 per cent of employees who feel that this is case. As a result, there’s still a lot of work to be done within businesses.
Strikingly, when it came to security – one of the main concerns around BYOD – 78 per cent of organisations we questioned said that they had communicated the security risks to their employees, yet less than a third admitted to doing it regularly; 68 per cent of employees said that they had been told only once or not at all.
In contrast, when it comes to data, opinions appear aligned, with nearly half (49 per cent) of employers and 43 per cent of employees believing their employer has the right to wipe data if a device is lost or stolen.
What is clear from the research and from talking to customers and peers is that there are some crucial points that need to be considered when thinking about BYOD.
The starting point should always be to define why you’re rolling out a BYOD strategy within your business and then speak to those it’s going to impact – whether that’s end-users, the IT team or HR. By engaging everyone involved at an early stage, you can ensure you get their ‘buy-in’ but also begin working through and communicating related policies. It is also worth talking to an expert around how BYOD could best work for your company; we have an expert team led by Stuart Bryden, which has plenty of experience of helping companies work out what’s best for them.
In order for any BYOD programme to be successful, it is essential to look at your network infrastructure and ensure that it is ready to cope with the demands you’re going to put on it. We talk to customers about the idea of a ‘Business Ready Network’ (BRN), which is a network that has the capabilities a business requires, with the ability to grow to meet future demand.
Once you have a BRN, the next vital step is to finalise and document all elements of the company’s BYOD policy, and share it with everyone internally or make it easy for people to find it. As with any technology implementation, it should include topics like how the programme works, what can and can’t be done on devices, what happens if the device gets lost or damaged and what the policy is on wiping business and personal data if the device is lost. Once you have the policy in place, you need to build in regular reviews to look at how it’s working.
Having a clear strategy around BYOD and getting the basics right – both from a technology and policy perspective – are essential, but so is communicating with employees about what they can and can’t do with devices. Get those three things right and a BYOD programme will deliver real business benefits.