Bring your own device (BYOD)—also called bring your own technology (BYOT), bring your own phone (BYOP), and bring your own PC (BYOPC)—refers to the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smartphones) to their workplace, and to use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.
The phenomenon is commonly referred to as IT consumerization. The term is also used to describe the same practice applied to students using personally owned devices in education settings.
The proliferation of devices such as tablets and smartphones, which are now used by many people in their daily lives, has led to a number of companies, such as IBM, to allow employees to bring their own devices to work, due to perceived productivity gains and cost savings.
The idea was initially rejected due to security concerns but more and more companies are now looking to incorporate BYOD policies, with 95% of respondents to a BYOD survey saying they either already supported BYOD or were at least considering supporting it. Security management is a major issue.
Some reports have indicated productivity gains by employees. Companies like Workspot inc believe that BYOD may help employees be more productive. Others say it increases employee morale and convenience by using their own devices and makes the company look like a flexible and attractive employer.
Race to Implement BYOD
Some industries are adopting BYOD quicker than others. A recent study by Cisco partners of BYOD practices stated that the education industry has the highest percentage of people using BYOD for work at 95.25. A study by IBM says that 82% of employees think that smartphones play a critical role in business.
The study also shows the benefits of BYOD include increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and cost savings for the company. Increased productivity comes from a user being more comfortable with their personal device; being an expert user makes navigating the device easier, increasing productivity.
Additionally, personal devices are often more cutting edge as company technology refreshes don’t happen as often. Employee satisfaction, or job satisfaction, occurs with BYOD by allowing the user to use the device they have selected as their own rather than one selected by the IT team. It also allows them to carry one device as opposed to one for work and one for personal.
Cost savings can occur on the company end because they now would not be responsible for furnishing the employee with a device, but is not a guarantee. A company can also see improved productivity from an employee with BYOD as it allows for the ability to easily take the device home and work.
All is not Hunky-Dory
According to a Business Insider magazine article titled, “Here’s the problem with companies that allow employees to BYOD – ‘bring your own devices’”: “Most employees spend a significant amount of time completing work-related tasks on mobile devices outside of working hours. In the U.S., 37% of employees spend more than 10 non-office hours completing work-related tasks on mobile. That share stands at 19% in the UK and 38% in Spain.”
“Companies that have BYOD policies, and employees who complete work-related tasks on personal mobile devices without official BYOD policies, are unlikely to have or encourage the use of business apps. Just 5% of US employees using their personal devices for mobile work tasks use business apps. This likely reflects a dearth of work-related apps created by companies with BYOD policies.
Overcoming a Plethora of Threats
BYOD has resulted in data breaches. For example, if an employee uses a smartphone to access the company network and then loses that phone, untrusted parties could retrieve any unsecured data on the phone. Another type of security breach occurs when an employee leaves the company, they do not have to give back the device, so company applications and other data may still be present on their device.
Furthermore, people sometimes sell their devices and might forget to wipe sensitive information before selling the device or handing it down to a family member. Various members of the family often share certain devices such as tablets; a child may play games on his or her parent’s tablet and accidentally share sensitive content via email or through other means such as Dropbox.