The Business Risks and Benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
The subject of BYOD appears to have broken down the traditional barrier of interest that prevents IT related stories from permeating into the mainstream media. With the exception of high profile security breaches, or events from the world of social media, it is not common for such subject matter to enter into the conversations overheard in pubs and around the table at dinner parties. However the phenomenon of BYOD is proving to be the exception that proves the rule.
The challenge that is presented to business and not just the IT department is whether to embrace this as an opportunity to transform working practices, or to disregard this as just another fad that will simply fade away once organisations discover all the hidden pitfalls that BYOD may unearth.
Currently I am reasonably agnostic and very much of the opinion that the jury is still out. However that said there are undoubtedly benefits for business to be gleaned from adopting BYOD for their employees.
A recent survey by Cisco found globally that 40% of college students and 45% of employees would accept a lower paying job with a choice of device, than a higher paying job with less flexibility.
The IT department however are far less convinced: other surveys have suggested around 70% of IT managers believe it is too risky to allow personally owned devices to access the corporate network.
The degree to which BYOD is possible will depend on the vertical market in which an organisation operates. Regulation and compliance have their part to play in shaping to what extent BYOD will be permissible.
So there is a delicate balance to be struck. Allowing employees the freedom to work from anywhere on anything, and the potential consequences of not adequately protecting corporate data. The solution is almost inevitably more technology.
Technology that securely delivers the enterprise out to the endpoints whatever shape, size or colour they may be. Being able to identify who is requesting access, where from, what with and even when. Therefore enabling businesses to control what data is accessible based on these and other criteria.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Private/Public Cloud Infrastructure (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) and Identity and Access Management systems all have their part to play.
There is without a shadow of a doubt a cultural paradigm shift for the IT department to fully embrace the potential of BYOD. With many questions still to be asked let alone answered.
However, for business, the potential to be more agile and competitive in an increasingly tough economic landscape will be an on-going debate in many dining rooms and board rooms around the globe.