When Internet email was introduced into the workplace, many employers were concerned about how it would change the dynamics of a company. It took the business world by storm. Today, many companies are seeing a similar reaction with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy where employees use their own personal mobile devices to conduct business in the office and at a remote location. It’s a growing trend, and it’s taking over the business world.
What Is BYOD?
BYOD is a practice that allows employees to use own personal devices, such as smartphones, notebooks or tablets, to do their job at work, at home or anywhere that’s convenient or necessary. These mobile devices are either purchased by the employee or by the company, depending on the strategy put in place. Workers are typically given access to company data and files just as they would if they were using a regular computer inside the office.
A company’s BYOD policy depends on a variety of factors including the type of information that needs to be kept secure and out of the public’s reach. At IBM, four basic IT policies are in place for those employees who use their personal mobile devices for work:
- Unlimited access for personal mobile devices
- Access to only non-sensitive data and information
- Access with IT control over personal device usage including apps downloaded and types of data that are stored
- Complete access with the inability to store data on personal devices
Why BYOD Is Taking Over the Business World
Allowing employees to bring their personal devices to work offers significant advantages for businesses struggling to keep up with advancements in technology without breaking their IT budgets. That is why this strategy has such an effect on the business world. The policy works in several areas:
* Saves companies money: By encouraging or even requiring employees to use their own mobile devices in the workplace, businesses can save money. They no longer have to spend as much on hardware, software licensing and device maintenance. Employees will normally purchase mobile devices for themselves anyway, so why not let the companies take advantage of that.
* Increases productivity: More than two-thirds of companies with BYOD policies have seen an increase in productivity and customer response time, according to a new study by Dell. More than half of these same companies feel that they wouldn’t be as competitive without this policy in place. Also, employees who use their own devices spend more time at home working, blurring the fine line between the two locations.
* Frees up IT departments: Another advantage is the lack of technical support needed for employees who purchase and use their own devices. BYOD allows for a simpler infrastructure as employees are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their own phones, tablets or laptops. IT employees can then focus on more strategic initiatives instead of dealing with help desk issues and troubleshooting.
* Provides flexibility: Between flex time and the ability to telecommute, BYOD provides employees with a chance to have more flexible work schedules. Instead of working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in an office, workers can now work from home at 10 p.m. or 6 a.m. if they need. They can also quickly communicate with others around the world no matter the time of day.
From a business standpoint, BYOD provides a competitive edge over other companies and helps to attract and retain workers who seek flexibility in their schedules and often put in time outside the traditional workday. Employee training is
reduced because he or she already knows how to work the device, which in turn causes him or her to be more productive and efficient.
However, this policy does not work in every workplace. In fact, in some situations, it can only harm productivity as employees can become too comfortable with their own devices and use them for personal business on company time.
The Future of BYOD and the Business World
No matter what, people will continue to bring mobile devices work, whether there’s a BYOD policy in place or not. Even if an
employer does not want to implement such a strategy, what is going to stop someone from carrying their phone into the office? BYOD does present some challenges to today’s businesses. They will have to prepare for possible BYOD security breaches just like they will have to worry about viruses or malware being brought into the company. And just like the Internet and email, it’s a trend that will stick around for a while.