BYOD: User Policy Considerations
Questions and key points companies should consider when establishing BYOD policies.
The increasing use of advanced technology driven by the consumerization of IT is benefiting SMBs, says market intelligence firm IDC. As reported on eChannelLine, this is driven on multiple fronts that include the use of worker-owned smartphones, netbooks or tablet devices being used to access business applications or work documents on the corporate network.
Not surprisingly, the use of employee-owned devices is apparently more prevalent in developing countries. Though not mentioned in the report, I would imagine that this is likely due to the comparatively lower starting levels of technology employed by SMBs in these regions. Developed country or not, it is clear that the trend of BYOD, or bring your own device, is actively being used as a capability multiplier by small and mid-sized businesses.
Interestingly, while SMBs in developed countries such as in the U.S. do register higher levels of advanced technology use, the gap narrows with portable computing and communication products. According to the article:
SMBs in developing countries are keeping pace with their more developed counterparts when it comes to providing employees with smartphones, netbooks/mini notebooks, and media tablets. In some cases, they are actually more likely to provide these products to their staff.
Given the white-hot interest in tablets and the skyrocketing market share of smartphones, I think this finding should be a signal to SMBs - both in developing and developed countries - to see BYOD as an opportunity rather than a threat. Indeed, the availability of pervasive wireless coverage, collaboration tools, or even videoconferencing systems, the tablets and smartphones wielded by a new generation of tech-savvy employees can serve to empower employees to do things faster than before.
On the flip side, security does not appear to be a major concern for these SMBs. Ray Boggs, vice president, small and medium business markets at IDC, confirmed this when he observed, "Despite the potential security risks, these SMBs continue to allow employees to gain access to the company network and related resources through their own devices."
This final point makes it evident that SMBs should also invest in the appropriate security mechanisms. Of course, the relative infancy of BYOD makes this a tricky proposition given the lack of comprehensive and proven tools. However, SMBs can start by giving the IT department the go-ahead to start by updating existing IT usage policies to reflect a BYOD-centric environment, as well as by the deployment of security appliances and monitoring tools to tighten network controls.
Do you have any experiences with BYOD in your company? Feel free to drop a comment in our comments section below.