Bring your own device (BYOD) has slashed hardware and maintenance costs and fueled mobile productivity at companies large and small, and adoption is accelerating. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 45 percent of organizations will be all BYOD, while 40 percent will offer a mixed program, and only 15 percent won’t have any BYOD program in place.
But while BYOD can be a positive policy for numerous industries, it’s not going well for all organizations, especially those that have ignored the potential hazards associated with the policy.
Last year I discussed two unexpected consequences of BYOD, but since then the risks have expanded as available technology diversifies and new mobility demands arise. Here are five additional pitfalls of BYOD environments, and how organizations can avoid them:
1. Unlimited BYOD. Often, organizations install a blanket BYOD policy, allowing employees to use any device or operating system of their choice. While employees love the freedom of these policies, they can cause huge strain to IT and finance teams, according to Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014. As more systems enter the workplace, IT teams are forced to sync, secure, and fix everything from Android tablets to iOS smartphones to Windows computers. In a perfect world, every IT technician would know everything about every device, but that’s just not feasible. Instead, organizations will have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on IT support costs, whether that entails training existing IT staff or hiring new personnel. These soft costs are often overlooked by forward thinking companies, and can end up losing organizations revenue in the long run.
Instead of installing an unlimited BYOD policy, organizations should implement limitations on what types of devices and systems employees can use. Segmenting based on geography, platform, data needs, security, and cost is key to a successful and sustainable BYOD policy. The limitations should match the skill sets of the current IT team, ensuring simple and inexpensive tech support for all BYOD devices.
2. Out-of-sync apps. 2014 will be the year of the enterprise app. Companies continue to veer from traditional applications, and instead are developing personalized external and internal apps. Apps are becoming the primary entry point for people to access complex data. They offer a simple, user-friendly interface that masks the complexity of the IT system and information. Internal app development, although in its early stages, is expected to grow in the coming years, and this trend adds an additional challenge to the BYOD movement. Internal apps are traditionally developed for a single platform, making it impossible for BYOD users to view and use the app from alternative operating systems. In this case, companies must shell out thousands of dollars to develop the app for all systems if they want compatibility for all BYOD employees.
This is yet another reason why limited BYOD policies are crucial for organizational success. By identifying a specific operating system in the BYOD policy, organizations guarantee employees access to necessary internal apps and save money on extraneous app development.
3. BlackBerry isn’t dead. BlackBerry once reigned as the phone for big business, but the device is now in a crowded fight for cross-platform environments.
BlackBerry has yet to open its application program interface (API) to other MDMs, and is currently only managed on BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 5 or 10. This means companies must employ two separate mobile device management processes or rely on BES to manage all employee devices.
BlackBerry is trying to get companies to do the latter. On March 31, BlackBerry’s new EZ Pass promotion launched, offering customers a competitive pricing structure for BES10 that pits BlackBerry against the popular MDMs. BlackBerry is making a play to show that while its market share has dropped over the past few years, it’s still a leader in providing secure mobile device management.
The new BlackBerry licensing structure has also been simplified to include maintenance for cross-platform device management with little to no upfront costs. This price model aligns with other competitors, allowing customers to compare cross-platforms, and making it easier for customers to switch over from competitors.
With new licensing and new devices in the future, BlackBerry is still in the game.
4. Content is key. As more and more mobile devices enter the workplace, lost physical hardware isn’t the only security threat. The content retained on each BYOD device is equally worth securing, making content management the next step in effective MDM. Many users employ solutions such as DropBox to share and receive data, yet DropBox is not an enterprise data sharing solution and introduces numerous security holes. In this case, if a device is lost, all of the information housed in insecure applications is also compromised.
To diminish this security concern, organizations should implement a company-wide data sharing application, one capable of encrypting enterprise-grade data, such as Box. By naming a specified solution in a BYOD policy, organizations can better secure mobile content.
5. Internet of Things. This last peril sits further in the future, but companies should begin preparing now. While still in its early stages, the Internet of Everything could have an unexpected impact on BYOD policies. As the Internet continues to merge with everything from cars to watches, more employees will purchase these devices and use them for both personal and work-related tasks. In this case, if BYOD polices don’t state otherwise, employers might have to pick up the tab on costly multiuse devices since they can now double as work-related technologies.
In this case, it’s up to each organization to define what types of devices qualify under their BYOD policies. Companies should clearly state what they will and won’t reimburse in order to reduce costly technology payouts and reinforce core equipment.
BYOD is a blessing and a curse. When implemented effectively, it can save companies thousands of dollars and boost mobile workforce productivity. When integrated poorly, BYOD can add stress to tight corporate bottom lines. For that reason, it’s vital for organizations to review their current policies, and implement limitations to protect themselves and their employees. If you have any questions about how you’re handling your BYOD policy, feel free to email me at Kevin_English@SHI.com.