The Ups and Downs of BYOD


Like it or not, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) isn’t going away. While everyone agrees it’s a good idea to plan for the inevitable, few know what to expect.

To give you an idea, we put together a list, compiled in part from first-hand experience of doing it ourselves, of the impacts you can expect when implementing a BYOD strategy.

Increases in worker productivity

One of the most important benefits of adopting a BYOD strategy is that workers are happier, and therefore more productive, when using customized devices of their choosing.

In a July 2012 study commissioned by Trend Micro, researchers surveyed 202 companies in the U.S., U.K. and Europe, all of which had adopted some form of BYOD.  Seventy per cent of them reported their goal had been to achieve higher worker productivity, while another 70 per cent of those reported actual increases in their bottom line revenues as a result.

Attracting and retaining new talent

Attracting fresh new talent is core to any businesses success. And BYOD is often seen as a great tactic to do just that. Talented young employees will go wherever they feel most comfortable – a­nd their comfort level may be highest when they’re allowed to whip out their Macbook instead of plonking away on the company machine.

The costs balance out – for the most part

It may be tempting to think of BYOD as a way to save money and reduce help desk tickets. But in the same Trend Micro study, help desk costs actually increased. Which really underlines the need for your BYOD strategy to draw the line and clearly communicate the responsibility the user has to maintain his/her own device.

With employees on the hook for their own hardware, IT desks get the added bonus of not dealing with “mysterious” epidemics of hardware malfunctions, which just so happened to coincide whenever the latest, greatest Blackberry came to market. Never again receive an email with the subject line: “I swear the phone totally just landed in the toilet.”

Still, in our experience, most companies offer a subsidy for employees to put toward their own device. And the cost savings of not buying and managing the hardware seem to break even.

Make it a team effort…or else

Most IT leaders don’t have the time to navigate through the HR policies, legal and tax ramifications, and budgeting necessary in developing a BYOD strategy.

Which is why BYOD is not an IT project – it’s a project for the entire company. In order to be effective, multiple departments need to be involved. Consider organizing a committee of people from all tiers of the company to ensure no aspect is overlooked. Otherwise, you could have a few costly gotchas, such as having to tax those subsidies as income, or determining which budgets to pull from.

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About Mark Sebastian

Mark is a certified Information Security expert (CISSP, CISA and OSCP). He manages Softchoice’s internal BYOD program, and helps others understand BYOD by sharing Softchoice’s own journey.