Benefits and downsides to the BYOD trend
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) isn’t the most eloquent (or elegant) acronym to come out of the IT world. However, some say it stands for a new era where employees’ preferred devices are also used for completing work tasks. But is BYOD really the ultimate social integration and cost saving trend for businesses? Dominic Jones, managing director at IT support provider Barton Technology explains why this new trend may not be as inclusive as it claims to be.
By Dominic Jones
Today’s global economy means that companies now have clients, partners and even employees based in various geographical areas. So when it comes to working away from the main office headquarters, technology needs to be flexible enough to support all areas of the business.
The main benefit of employees using their own devices is a reduction in capital expenditure for the business. By not having to buy smartphones, laptops and tablets, the hardware costs are significantly reduced and, that’s a strong incentive for many organisations. The lure of a lower operating expenditure in the long run is also a perceived benefit.
In theory, when using their own devices, which they are used to and have chosen themselves, employees don’t need any further training. In my experience, when a company rolls out a new database, website or CRM system, there are always a few dissenting individuals who don’t support the change. If they were to use tablets or smartphones that they are already familiar with, this problem could be reduced.
However, the downsides to the BYOD trend are numerous and worth considering. From a logistics point of view, a multitude of devices is hard to support and manage, as you often can’t make the same app work on all platforms. If your IT support provider is responsible for installing all the software your business needs, on a whole host of personal devices, things will inevitably go wrong at some point. Making all of the necessary changes and, most importantly, making all of these portable devices communicate with each other is a Herculean labour!
The question of data integrity and security should also be raised. How can businesses manage their information and ensure that there are no leaks after the employee decides to leave, taking his device with him? The answer is simple; they can’t. Once uploaded to a device that doesn’t belong to the organisation, any data becomes vulnerable to theft.
Furthermore, what boundaries could you legally impose on an employee who also owns the device? Can you stop them from going on gambling websites outside working hours by installing a filter? How can you mitigate against friends and family members using the device while your employee is at home?
Privacy issues should also be taken into account. Just as businesses want their documents and commercial plans to remain private, so do members of staff. As a consequence, it’s unlikely they would allow the IT manager to take their device and, potentially, have a sneak peak at their holiday snaps while updating the software.
Even more importantly, BYOD can’t be implemented realistically across the business because not all of your staff own state of the art portable devices, fit for enterprise use. BYOD could create differences between employees and ostracise those who can’t afford the latest tablet or smartphone. This will undoubtedly affect productivity and data security, which makes the Bring Your Own Device trend as unpalatable as its acronym.
About the author
Dominic Jones is managing director at Barton Technology. He founded the company twelve years ago and since then it has experienced constant growth thanks to its knowledgeable and professional staff. Barton Technology now has four offices based in the South east of England.
About Barton Technology
Established in April 2000, Barton Technology is a privately owned company with a proven approach which is quality driven, thorough and extraordinarily successful. From their headquarters in South London, they specialise in providing IT support and business telephone services to customers in the construction, not for profit, retail, finance, legal and insurance SME sectors and who are located in London, Surrey and Kent.