Friday, October 21, 2011

BYOD: ‘bring your own device’ How will it impact your company

In case you haven't heard, the Bring Your Own device to work strategy is doing the rounds in the more enlightened corporate IT world and is a very attractive option for Developers, Administrators and other IT geeks of that ilk.

That aside, as a non-geek, BYOD will require serious attention to the infrastructure and support policies within your organisation.

The one really good reason not to let employees use their own smartphone, notebook or tablet at work, is because it creates an IT management nightmare.

Firstly or blatantly, there are inherent security and regulatory compliance risks. Unless you have complete control or have great faith the responsibility of IT geeks to protect their own assets.

Even if you restrict and /or allow certain products or technologies that people can bring and use, it will be next to impossible to make sure everyone keeps their machines updated with the proper OS and application patches.

If you use the argument that BYOD will save the company money on assets, their maintenance and their depreciation, you may be disappointed. Many businesses supporting BYOD expect employees to buy and support devices at their own expense but the boundary between the BYOD asset an dthe infrastructure and security policies behind that may be blurred.

Consequently, there is a high risk of holes opening up in your Securoty, DMZ and Firewall. The money not spent on assets may have to be diverted to protect the infrastructure and will require the development of new IT management policies. Can you say your organization is BOYD ready?

To simplify small and midsize businesses (SMEs) should be prepared to sense BYOD and it's impact in the following ways.

#1: Your technology upgrade cycles will be shorter
Most smartphones are turned over every one or two years, because of carrier contracts. That means employees will be exposed to new features more quickly and be able to keep up with business enhancing features made available on open platforms e.g. Skype, Social media, etc.

#2: You will need to consider supporting or including more devices, not fewer
Even if your company chooses not to let employees bring their own smartphones, consumer tablets or notebooks into their work setting, it will need to consider adding more devices to the menu that allows people to work whilst travelling. Consider this an evolution of your corporate benefits or perks strategies. People should be able to choose their own device for work, even if they don’t own them outright.

#3: You need to rethink how you distribute applications
Thanks to Apple, most of us have become really familiar with the idea that you can download pretty much any application you need from searchable store. Over time, employees will come to expect the same from our IT team. Updates and upgrades will be enforced through alerts, much like the store concept.

#4: You need to raise your game on mobile security
Mobile malware and antivirus software packages exist, but they haven’t been widely used. If you allow people to bring their own mobile device, that needs to change. What’s more, your organisation will need to govern what data can and cannot be downloaded locally. That’s especially true in certain industries, especially healthcare or financial services where the Data Protection Act is very pertinent.

#5: You need to rethink the concept of mobility.
IDC expects the number of mobile workers worldwide to surpass 1.2 billion by 2013. Why would you provision someone with a desktop computer, even if it is a person who traditionally works in a back office position, if there is a chance that he or she might need greater flexibility in the future?

Forrester Research predicts that up to 60 percent of information workers will need to work in some location outside their office during the average workweek. Does that number fit well with your asset projections for notebook computers, media tablets or smartphones in your organisation?

Bring Your Own Device to work certainly has an allure and attraction from an financial asset management perspective and as a motivator for Developers and IT Geeks but have we thought this all the way through and are we, and our organisations really ready to adopt this strategy.

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