OPINION: BYOD – the management challenge!

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What are the pros and cons of BYOD? The key elements are effective management and strategic planning, says Todd Carothers, Executive VP of Marketing and Products, CounterPath.

Allowing employees to use their personal devices for work and to access company data, systems, and applications is nothing new; Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have been around for some time. But they need careful planning, management, and accountability in order to get the best results.

The upside is that there are many benefits in implementing a BYOD policy. For example, employees tend to be more productive when using their own devices, and the devices themselves are usually more up-to-date than the company’s hardware.

More, BYOD policies can help to raise employee satisfaction, eliminate the need for staff to carry multiple devices, and help the organisation to reduce its own costs – although those benefits may be offset by data plan subsidies.

But it’s not quite as simple as IT managers switching on a BYOD policy and then washing their hands of day-to-day responsibility or involvement. Data security must be paramount when sensitive corporate data is involved.

The do list

The first thing an organisation needs to decide is if it wishes to grant unlimited access to corporate systems and data from employees devices – with the right access privileges – or whether to restrict access to sensitive data, and prevent the local storage of corporate data on non-company-owned devices.

Those decisions needs careful consideration against both business strategy and operational management.

Creating a comprehensive BYOD policy is the only way to build a foundation for the scheme’s success. That policy must lay out the rules and protocols that will govern the programme, including details about all the applications, data, security levels, and files that are to be made available to employees’ devices.

Daily monitoring is next on the ‘to do’ list. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of BYOD management, and therefore also a vital step in its success. When allowing access to sensitive corporate data, the organisation needs to manage both the protocols and the individual devices effectively.

As employees frequently change their devices to get the latest models, it is also important to maintain constant communication and control over which devices are included in the company’s network – and to ensure that systems are compatible with the most popular models.

With the rise of BYOD adoption and the increasing numbers of remote or flexible workers, cloud-based unified communications could become the bedrock of collaboration and communication between employees using different networks, platforms, and devices.

Keeping all the above points in mind when planning and executing your BYOD programme will help you and your organisation minimise the risks and reap all the benefits.

About Author

Chris Middleton

Chris Middleton is a widely respected business and technology journalist, author, and magazine editor. In recent years he has been Editor of Computing (where he remains Consulting Editor); co-founder and Managing Editor of Professional Outsourcing – a magazine he developed from scratch and grew to be the leading magazine in its field; Editor of CBR in its most successful year; and co-founder and launch Editor of Sourcingfocus.com. Today, he is co-Director of EastwoodMiddleton Publishing, and founder, designer, and Editor in Chief of Strategist magazine (UK), the boardroom magazine that provides strategic insight for business leaders, and of its mobile-first digital edition at www.iamtheStrategist.com. He is also co-founding Editor of Child Internet Safety magazine, and a contributing Editor of Diginomica.com. Over the years Chris has also written for, among many others, The Guardian, The Times, the BBC, and Computer Weekly. He is the author of several successful books on digital media, and a commissioning editor of more than 50 books.