For some people, BYOD pros and cons may sound like an office Christmas party request gone awry. In actuality, BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. This particular four-letter acronym poses a serious cyber-security question for every company, regardless of size. Whether you are a corporate giant or a small business, the pros and cons of bringing your own device require a BYOD top-down policy.
Allowing your employees to make that decision independently or not addressing the potential security issues that come with BYOD is a grave mistake. That’s because your mobile device, especially when connected to your company’s network, offers an opportunity for hackers to exploit.
However, unilaterally banning personal devices from your workplace may provoke a riot among your employees. There are also productivity advantages of allowing personal devices for business use. Naturally, with great power comes great responsibility. If you ever wondered about the pros and cons of bringing your own device, read on!
The Pros of BYOD
1. A Happier Workforce
Naturally, employees will be happier if they can use their personal devices at work and for work. This isn’t breaking news. Of course, employee happiness isn’t the be all and end all. Every day employers must make decisions that upset the rank and file; that’s just life.
However, a happy employee is a productive one and productivity is always good for business. How good? According to a study by the Social Market Foundation, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than their malcontented counterparts. The comparison is even starker when it relates to sales. According to the Harvard business review, salespeople are up to 37% more productive when the good times are rolling.
There also appears to be a correlation in organizational appreciation when it comes to content employees. Forbes reported that “the stock prices of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for” rose 14% per year from 1998 to 2005, while companies not on the list only reported a 6% increase.”
Every business decision comes with pluses and minuses. Weighing those factors and choosing wisely is the role of sound management. The numbers we just reported would seem to favor giving employees what they want when it comes to BYOD. Yet, not every business weighs the same factors on the other side of employee happiness. A security breach could undo all that productivity in a heartbeat and that is really what management must weigh.
2. Enhanced Productivity
So we know that a happy employee gets more done than an unhappy one. But, what if the simple act of allowing employees to use their own devices made them more productive? Based on the reported numbers, it’s clear that it does:
- “61% of Gen Y and 50% of 30+ workers believe the tech tools they use in their personal lives are more effective and productive than those used in their work life.”(Dell)
- “Using portable devices for work tasks saves employees 58 minutes per day while increasing productivity by 34%.”(Frost and Sullivan)
- “A BYOD enabled employee works an extra two hours and sends 20 more emails every day.”(ITProPortal)
- “One out of three BYOD employees checks work emails before the official start of their working day, between 6 am and 7 am.”(ITProPortal)
It makes total sense that people would be more effective using their own devices rather than a work phone or laptop. Who wouldn’t be more efficient using the device they stare at for ten hours of the day?
Smartphones and computers are more a part of our everyday lives than ever. There is now an actual phobia, nomophobia, that describes the anxiety of not having your smartphone. Some people spend nearly their entire lives attached to their devices. Allowing them to use them for work only increases their likelihood of production.
3. Decreased Costs
The alternative of BYOD in your workplace is providing devices for all your employees. That’s not an insignificant cost, especially if you are a large company. You also have to take into account that many of your employees may not be well versed in the type of devices you select.
Therefore, many will require training which adds another expense. Even after buying devices for everyone and training those who need it, your employees still won’t be as effective on their work phone as they would be on their personal device. There’s also an added expense for lost or broken devices!
Ultimately, BYOD saves you money in a few crucial areas: telecommunications, hardware, support, and training. According to Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group that adds up to $3,150 per employee per year.
Cisco’s study also found that the Internet of Everything (IoE), which is defined as “the intersection of People, Process, Data, and Things” holds a tremendous amount of value. How much value? 21% of corporate profits or $14.4 trillion worldwide over the next decade. The world is changing rapidly and those who make the right decisions first will gain a leg up on those missteps. BYOD is one of many touchstone decisions.
4. Speed and Power
As we just discussed, allowing BYOD into your workplace is a substantial cost-cutting measure. It also allows workers to be more productive since they are attached to the hip with their phones anyway. What’s more is that BYOD policies decrease costs and increase productivity in another way you probably haven’t thought of yet: upgrades.
By allowing BYOD into your workplace, employees will use their personal devices for work rather than corporate-issued phones. Naturally, people upgrade their phones far more regularly than a business would. Therefore, you’ll have employees using faster and newer technology to get things done. So the math works out to faster, more modern phones versus cheaper, slower and older phones that you as an employer must purchase.
The Cons Of BYOD
1. Lack Of Uniformity
Of course, weighing the pros and cons of BYOD isn’t all rose petals and sunshine. There are downsides to allowing personal phones for work. One that can cause some headaches is the lack of consistency. Obviously, not everyone will be utilizing the same type of devices. Some workers may favor iPhones or Mac, while others may be PC or Android users.
If you’ve got a team of ten people and six are on Dells and four are on Macs, some operating issues will likely crop up. It also may require people to learn two different operating procedures and other complications that may breed animosity. Naturally, if everyone is on the same devices, everything is cleaner. Directions, SOPs and information packets all work seamlessly without disruption or hassle. Your IT department will certainly thank you if you require everyone on the same devices. You may just have to pay for it.
2. Security Issues
Quite frankly, potential security issues are the number one problem associated with BYOD policies. You really have to trust the cybersecurity instincts of your workforce to allow BYOD. That’s because allowing dozens to hundreds of different types of devices into your workplace without faith in their owner’s security sense is a recipe for disaster. It’s like giving children scissors on the playground: an accident is inevitable.
The complexity of your security environment must increase if you choose to allow BYOD policies. It’s simple math. The more personal devices and device types within a workplace, the more potential for leaks. With dedicated work phones, employers gain far more control over the information employees access, enterprise data, and how those devices are used. It’s so much harder for data to fall into the wrong hands if companies supply their own work phones. It offers a level of control that simply isn’t available within BYOD.
We should mention that there are Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) services that provide a middle ground. These services allow you to give employees the BYOD policies that they want, while still having a measure of security. However, these services have costs and are not foolproof by any means. The greatest EMM, MDM or MAM services can’t save you from employees not understanding cybersecurity threats. Dedicated work phones are the best means to ensure workers and productive AND secure.
3. Employee Privacy
The inevitable push and pull of security can be boiled down into two sides: privacy and security. The more security you have, the less privacy you allow and vice versa. It’s the plot of hundreds of movies and a serious talking point in the world today. As Facebook recently found out, privacy is important to people. For businesses, not allowing the proper amount of privacy can cost you money, damage your reputation and even land you in jail. It’s a serious issue, one that doesn’t have one right answer.
BYOD policies face those exact same issues. If you allow phones in the workplace, how much privacy do you allow your workers? If you give them too much, they may cause security breaches intentional or not that cost the company money, possibly even its viability. There is an obligation to protect the organization’s data as well as the privacy of your workforce. Walking the line of allowing BYOD to increase productivity, while protecting workers privacy can be difficult, even impossible at times.
4. Legal Issues
Of course, everyone’s favorite subject, potential litigation, was due to make an appearance on this list. Naturally, sensitive or proprietary information stored on an employee’s personal phone could cause serious potential harm. If that information falls into the wrong hands, who is to blame? Understanding how quickly the BYOD legal waters can become very murky is absolutely vital. The last thing you want is to end up in court in a three-way legal standoff between a former employee, a client and yourself.
All data is not created equal. Some data comes with legal stipulations such as transfer or erasure rules. Employees who do not understand the complications can quickly find themselves in trouble, which in turn, can create problems for the company. There’s also the smaller but valid problem of hourly workers and BYOD policies. Hourly workers in some states legally may be able to claim compensation if they access data outside of their normal hours.
As we mentioned, understanding all the legal ramifications of BYOD is critical. A courtroom is never a fun place to be unless you are Judge Judy. So, find the right people to help you understand how the laws in your state may relate to BYOD.
5. Software Issues
We all love technology. It’s made our lives so much easier. Then, undoubtedly, something goes wrong and we suddenly hate that technology a lot. It’s part of the gift and curse of convenience. We appreciate convenience until it’s taken away and then it drives us nuts that is no longer there. Software issues are a perfect example of that quick turn from love to hatred. BYOD may offer many great conveniences but when it comes to software, it can be a real nightmare.
When it comes to software, it isn’t a “one type fits all” situation. And when you have 80 employees with various types of devices, finding software that works for all of them can be frustrating. Even if you do get it all up and running, inevitably there will be patches and upgrades that might require for the entire process to start over again. Outsourcing your IT to Software-as-a-Service is the easiest way to avoid a major headache. Unfortunately, that isn’t foolproof. Chances are you’ll have a few employees struggling to use their devices.
BYOD Pros and Cons in A Nutshell
Clearly, there are a number of factors that every organization must weigh before approving BYOD policies. The number one consideration should be the security of the organization. If the company’s work is varied and spread in many different sectors, BYOD would likely create too many security issues that outweigh the potential boost in productivity. The ultimate goal is to boost productivity without compromising security.
Examining your endpoint security and bifurcating sensitive information into secure data stores with limited access, is conducive to BYOD policies. If employees can access the information they need without jeopardizing the company, the downside to BYOD is limited. It all just depends on the type of work involved and how your information system is set up. If you’d like more information on how BYOD could help or hurt your company, visit RSI Security today.