The explosions of bring your own device (BYOD) strategies in the business world probably have you thinking that now is the time for your company to implement BYOD. After all, BYOD saves money for a company, spares IT some headaches, and employees like the sense of control they get from owning their own devices.
Besides the benefits of BYOD, there are also risks. But with the right approach, you can maximize the former and minimize the latter. It takes careful planning, constant diligence, and a flexible attitude. Here are some pointers to help you approach BYOD in a way that won’t land you in a world of confusion and frustration.
Measure Your Success
Image via Flickr by Bill Brooks
When deciding what you want to accomplish via BYOD, don’t settle for vague notions like “save money” or “increase employee satisfaction.” Set specific goals. Eweek.com recommends having a “well-defined set of measurable processes that can benefit from mobility.” Knowing exactly what you want to get done will guide you as you plan your BYOD strategy.
Set deadlines for your goals. How much money do you want to save on tech costs within the next year? In the next few months, how much increased productivity do you want to see? The results of a survey at blogs.cisco.com states that 89 percent of organizations allow employee-owned technology at work. Talk to other business about what BYOD has done for them, and get helpful pointers from their successes and failures.
You wouldn’t save much of anything if you bought devices for your employees, but since they’ll be using personal devices for work purposes, they likely expect some form of reimbursement. You can subsidize in different ways, like putting a device allowance on an employee’s paycheck or through expense reports. A useful infographic at biztechmagazine.com points out that if you fail to reimburse employees, they’ll be less likely to treat the device as a work tool.
How much should you compensate your employees for use of their devices? Pcworld.com provides the results of a Gartner study that shows that at this time no standard practices exist for BYOD reimbursement. Only about half of BYOD companies offer any reimbursement at all, which usually just covers part of the data plan. Talk to your employees and find out what seems both reasonable to them and is something that your budget can handle.
Establish an Education Program
Deciding when to BYOD means taking into account how soon you can develop a program for educating your employees. They likely already know all the basics of how to use mobile devices, but more than a basic knowledge is needed. Organize workshops to help employees get a grasp of how to make use of those devices for business purposes.
What should the workshops include? The best apps for boosting productivity and how to use them; pointers on security, like choosing strong passwords to protect company data; basics on how to troubleshoot devices and their operating systems; and how to balance personal and professional use. The possibilities go on.
Don’t do just a one-time information dump. Give regular reminders and advice on how employees can get the most out of their devices. The reminders don’t need to always be in the form of time-consuming workshops. Email reminders and posts on bulletin boards are an easy way to keep a steady flow of helpful advice going to employees.
Write a BYOD Policy
Vital to the success of any BYOD program is a sound, thorough written policy governing the use of business devices. Your policy should include things like acceptable uses of the device, which apps to avoid downloading, requirements on keeping device security updated, and other things along those same lines.
Optimalnetworks.com offers more guidance on creating an effective BYOD policy. The policy needs to specifically state which devices and operating systems your company supports. Stick with current devices, so your employees don’t bring in outdated technology with old security features and sub-par performance.
Another point to keep in mind for your BYOD policy is that it must address what happens when an employee leaves. Everyone should understand that the device will be remotely wiped to prevent breaches in security. The same wiping protocol should apply to when a device leaves the company without its owner — that is, when it gets lost or stolen.
Take Care of Security
When you research how to implement BYOD in your business, the thing that’ll pop up most often is security. A good policy and ongoing education will help cut back on risks, but there is even more you should do. A post at networkworld.com suggests taking a step beyond passwords. Use authentication methods, like one-time passwords and different notification methods, such as text messages, to make devices and apps more secure.
The same post recommends a VPN and single sign-on (SSO) tools. SSO tools “let employees use a single password to get access to a portal of company and cloud applications.” When employees need to remember only one password for work purposes, they’ll not resort to dangerous methods of keeping track of passwords, like jotting them down on a piece of paper that gets thrown into a pocket every day.
Use mobile device management (MDM) software to manage and monitor devices. MDM enables the remote wiping of devices that was recommended in the previous section of this article.
What are the other advantages of MDM? An article on benefits of mobile device management for healthcare points out some of the perks of MDM, which aren’t specific just to healthcare. For instance, IT can take control of devices when necessary to address issues. MDM empowers IT to load applications to devices and keep them updated.
Another benefit specified in that article is that “MDM doesn’t require you to change your existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.” If your office space has a strong Wi-Fi connection, MDM is “simply an overlay to that network,” meaning that the work to integrate it is minimal.
A BYOD program can get out of hand and cause much trouble if it isn’t handled correctly, but when you start it out with a carefully planned strategy, you’ll keep it in check and reap all the benefits of BYOD.