Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been gathering momentum among businesses and their employees alike. BYOD is a model of business technology deployment whereby employees, rather than companies, provide and maintain their own personal technology devices — such as computers and phones — for business use. While there are many potential benefits to adopting a BYOD model, businesses that manage their BYOD model in traditional ways can open themselves up to a number of potential threats. Companies can avoid these pitfalls by implementing a thoughtful approach to managing BYOD that leverages remote access solutions.
There are several benefits to BYOD that immediately stand out to businesses considering adopting this model.
Cost Savings. BYOD enables businesses to realize significant cost savings. Having employees bring their own devices to work not only eliminates the cost of the initial purchase of devices, but also saves on future repairs and the perpetual replacement cycles.
Current Technology. Individuals typically update and replace their personal devices more often than businesses do. This means that employees’ technology will likely be more current and therefore faster, more efficient and more secure, especially if they are running up-to-date versions of operating systems and software.
Proficiency. Employees using their own devices are already comfortable and familiar with their hardware and operating systems; they most likely chose their device due to brand and software preferences. This level of comfort allows employees to be more efficient, minimizing their learning curve while maximizing productivity.
While these positive aspects make BYOD an attractive prospect, there are two main challenges that companies need to consider and address before committing to this model.
Non-Conformity. With employees bringing devices of their choosing to work, IT departments and managed service providers are faced with a lack of uniformity among the devices and software that must be managed. This can lead to inefficiencies in troubleshooting, longer issue resolution times and more IT support overhead.
Data Security. With company data residing on personal devices, businesses have significantly less control of their data than they would on a company-owned device. This means data may continue to reside on an employee’s device long after that employee has left the company. With a large variety of devices and software to be managed, the IT department may not be able to effectively deploy and manage the tools that should protect data from breaches or malware infections on an employee’s device.
Thoughtfully Managing BYOD
In a hosted Remote Desktop or VDI deployment, all of a company’s data is stored on a remote server, and users access all of their work-related programs and data through a portal into that server. As a result, no data is ever actually being stored on the user’s device and, therefore, the data is not vulnerable to infection, loss or data sovereignty issues. Additionally, the IT management overhead is significantly decreased, as the devices that are serviced essentially become dumb terminals. Employees can access their workspace from any computer, so a laptop device replacement takes minutes rather than hours. For the management of cell phones that hold company email, a strict mobile device management policy and appropriate software is recommended to ensure company control of data.
With the prominence of Web-based software and the ability to deploy technology in much more manageable ways, BYOD is becoming safer and more viable than ever. The key to a successful BYOD implementation is ensuring appropriate policies are in place to maximize data security. Additionally, appropriate tools must be in place so that IT can effectively manage endpoints regardless of variety or whether or not they are company- or employee-owned.
Ryan Treisman is chief technology officer for Phoenix-based Adopt Technologies, a provider of high-quality cloud and traditional IT services to small and medium-sized businesses.
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