Many businesses are adopting the “Bring Your Own Device” (B.Y.O.D) scheme which allows their employee to use their personal cell phones for working purposes. Forrester Research, a leading researcher firm, recently published a report suggesting that “bring your own technology” is an irreversible phenomenon. 53% of businesses already embraced it and within 3 years most business will adopt it to the point it will become standard policy and a requirement for new employees.
“Brining your device” policy saves companies allot of money for two main reasons; they don’t have to spend as much purchasing smart phones and employees are usually willing to pay some of their monthly bill. Employees are also already acquainted with all the features of their personal phones and therefore are using it more comfortably and efficiently.
But implementing a B.Y.O.D policy does not mean sheer profit. Businesses have to do some adjustments for it to work. It has major security and legal implications that business owners have to take into consideration.
Data security and the possibility of information leaking outside of the company has been a major concern for organizations ever since mobile devices became a cardinal business tool. This is due the simple fact that these devices are more easily lost, stolen and accessed. This concern is even greater when that data is stored on employees’ personal devices. By implementing a B.Y.O.D policy, organizations are losing a huge part of their control over what is being done with their most sensitive information.
The legal consequences of B.Y.O.D policy require attention as well. Since the information is stored on the employee’s personal device, she can claim she owns it. Of course, business owners have no interest in her music collection, but what about her contacts or work related documents, analyses or files, she have stored on her phone? Typically, the company owns all intellectual property rights created by an employee (in and out of work), but in this somewhat vague context, companies might be at risk of losing priceless assets.
Before plunging into the B.Y.O.D pool, business owners should stop and ask themselves a few key questions. The first question is which information they can’t afford to lose? Business owners need to first clarify what type of information can go on their employees personal devices, taking into consideration that data may be lost or even stolen. Defining a written policy and having employees sign on it may protect them from future litigation. Another question is what and how many mobile OS can you support? Smart phones come in many shapes, forms and operating systems. Business owner should decide how much they want and can invest in making the proper modifications to connect each employee personal device into the business network. They also need to decide who is responsible for the device technical support. The last question is, what type of reimbursement should the employee receive for using his own device? Business owner need to decide how much they will contribute to cover the cost of the device and the monthly plan. Other issues that need to be determined are who pays the mobile operator and who chooses the monthly plan.
I felt touching the subject is important because even though there are no conclusive statistics about small business B.Y.O.D adoption, I would think that since their work environment is usually more agile and dynamic they will be lured to adopt it. No doubt, the business world is running toward a B.Y.O.D policies but in order to do it right, hard questions should be asked and even harder answers must be given.