Last year, Tenable Network Security in partnership with the LinkedIn Information Security Community, took a survey about the adoption and challenges of BYOD policies. The majority of respondents, 72% to be precise, had at least some employees officially under a BYOD policy. So, while not universal, BYOD is definitely here, and won’t be going away anytime soon.
In a 2013 survey of 2,400 mobile users conducted by Cisco, almost half preferred to use their own device to a corporate provided one, to the point that they also found a “BYODer” would require a $2,200 signing bonus to entice them to change to a company that didn’t support such policies. The trend toward BYOD inclusion is especially important with the Millennial workforce. A 2011 Cisco’s study showed that 40% of college students and 45% of young professionals would trade higher pay for mobility, device choice flexibility, and social media access.
This obviously is something that matters to people, and so much so that there are measurable effects that the lack or the presence of the BYOD-friendly policy inside a company on both morale and employee turnover. It comes down to minimizing frustrations. Ultimately the needs of maintenance staff are very different than the needs of the sales staff. While a device may be perfect for the way one works, it will hinder the workflow of (and will become a frustration for) the other. Of course, it goes without saying that neither side is wrong, and both will be equally frustrated with being forced to fumble through a device that is suboptimal for them.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t concerns about a policy like this, there most certainly are. The problem is, if you aren’t already addressing these concerns, they are almost certainly already a problem; it is then an unknown. Your employees are already using personal devices, and you have no insight into them.
For smartphones and tablets, the term for the solutions for this is MDM or Mobile Device Management. With regard to these types of devices, there have been a number of very good solutions capable of deleting corporate data while not affecting private data, a very important feature to have when an employee leaves. One thing to consider here is the need for cross-platform support. There are a few companies that do this: Bitglass, MobileIron, and SAP Afaria, amongst others. Of course, you can also take the last step, which is using tools like VMWare Horizon (formerly View) to provide similar features for full computer applications. This allows your users to use their laptops and home computers to work.
Should you go fully BYOD? Maybe, there are a number of pros and cons you need to weigh. Should you at least be looking at the consequences of users using their own devices? Definitely, because they are going to do it anyway. Once you realize they are going to do it, and you need to seriously develop a policy for it anyway, is it that much more to give them an approved way to do it, allowing you to ensure your safety?
These are the considerations your company needs to be looking at right now in terms of BYOD policy because with Millennials already being the largest demographic in the workforce today, the trend towards BYOD flexibility is only expected to gain more steam in the years to come.