Bring Your Own Device: Does Your Business Need a Policy?

Whether you want it or not, your company’s employees are bringing their own electronic devices to work. Mostly it’s smartphones and tablets, but others bring their own laptops to connect to the workplace’s network and use them for business.

A majority of companies in the U.S. have embraced an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude and implemented a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy in the office.

On the international front, research firm Frost & Sullivan found that, of the IT decision makers surveyed in Australia, 60 percent embrace a BYOD policy with 25 percent of those providing help desk support for employee-owned devices.

BYOD is taking over and now your business is embracing the trend head-on. The goal now isn’t to prevent it, but instead regulate it to ensure the security of your network, keep workflow going, and make sure all other policies are met.

1. Run a Pilot

Designate a group of employees, whether it’s a specific department or a physical section in the office, to run the new BYOD policy before it’s rolled out to the company. Make sure these colleagues are a mix of tech savvy and non-savvy (you wouldn’t choose the IT department for this, for example). Gather feedback and use it to make changes.

2. Don’t Skimp On Training

“Okay, you can bring what you want” should not be part of your vernacular.

Business people using smartphones, tablets, and laptops

This is the time to set expectations and educate employees what they can and cannot bring and how to properly use their personal devices for business. This is where you take control before it gets away from you.

3. Don’t Sweat Device-Level Security

Requiring and installing security on every personal device that crosses the front door would be a nightmare. Forget the money and man-hours it would take, the maintenance after-the-fact would make device-level security nearly impossible. Focus on a flexible defense for your company’s network that can respond to BYOD and protect itself from personal data and programs joining the system. Also, prepare for a new trend that comes with BYOD…

4. Beware of BYOC

BYOC — bring your own cloud — is a trend in business growing right alongside BYOD. Personal cloud services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive are becoming household brands and many personal computer owners use them to store anything from photos to business documents. But letting these services run free on your network can cause serious issues (not to mention data theft vulnerabilities).

At the same time, you don’t want to block these sites without offering an alternative. The best course of action to find an enterprise cloud solution or, at the very least, pick one consumer-level cloud service and allow only that.

5. There is no Free

BYOD can save your company money, but don’t assume it will eliminate costs entirely. You need to consider changes to your office’s infrastructure before adding dozens, or even hundreds, of personal devices to the network. As long as you’re prepared to make the adjustments, BYOD can be a rewarding and productive policy in the workplace (as well as lucrative).

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