The Mobility Roadmap – Managing the Evolution of BYOD in the Enterprise

By Jason Blevins

As the smartphone is now the device of choice for the majority of the consumer market, employee demand for the corporate-deployed, one-type-fits-all device is quickly dwindling. Employees want to use their device for both the corporate and the personal – reflecting this era’s demands for mobility, simplicity, efficiency, multi-tenancy and customizability. Nine out of every ten Americans now use their smartphones for work. Translating these demands into secure, enterprise-grade solutions are often seen as an IT nightmare and a security risk rather than a beneficial compromise between employee and employer needs. Traditionally, companies have chosen to maintain complete control over corporate information via corporate-owned devices.

However, the increasingly popular bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has taken the corporate world by storm and revolutionized mobility. Currently, more than 63 percent of workers say they would prefer to work for a company that allows for use of personal devices in the workplace, and enterprises are embracing the BYOD solution, reaping benefits previously unforeseen. BYOD has become such a popular trend because each corporation can develop a model tailored to their unique business and employee needs. Organizations that are able to provide access to their networks and welcome employee-owned devices are reporting an increase in employee job satisfaction, improved work-life balance, and an upswing in efficiency and productivity.

Why BYOD

From the corporate perspective, a simplified infrastructure, a reduction in help desk-related headaches and an improved bottom line as workers contribute to the cost of devices are reasons enough to seriously consider a BYOD management platform. BYOD eases the management burden by eliminating the need to select and manage a provider and plan. Employees handle all aspects of device management – they choose their provider, device type, and device plan. They are responsible for paying all costs to the provider unless the company provides stipends. Furthermore, BYOD models eliminate or reduce the requirement for an IT administrator to implement a mobile plan, which additionally reduces the strain on IT help desks since end-users are primarily responsible for reaching out to their mobile provider or self-service portals if they need support.

The biggest challenge that BYOD represents in the enterprise is the question of security versus convenience. Employees want the convenience of only having one device and are more likely to be productive while traveling or working away from the office if they are comfortable with the device. However, inviting employee-owned laptops, mobile phones, and tablets into the workplace does introduce a new set of security-related hurdles. Issues regarding corporate content security, employee privacy, and multi-tenant mobility require the implementation of a BYOD policy to ensure a smooth transition from corporate to employee owned devices.

BYOD Policy

With a well-defined user policy, enterprises can set expectations and establish compliance. Such transparency does a number of things:

  • Makes employees aware of their rights and responsibilities
  • Provides visibility on legal and privacy issues by outlining terms for content and app management
  • Differentiates between personal and corporate data

Not only do these clearly outlined policies allow workers to make an informed decision when entering into a BYOD agreement, but transparency between employer and employee also helps to drive BYOD adoption by shifting the tone of the conversation from corporate management to employee empowerment.

Security

From a security standpoint, enterprises can adjust BYOD platform configuration to account for the security and privacy needs of both employer and employee. By pushing profiles to devices automatically or on-demand, customizable BYOD features enable enterprises to provide secure access from employee-owned devices to enterprise resources through enterprise Wi-Fi and VPN networks. Administrators are able to set BYOD policies, push profiles and apps, and configure custom access to corporate content, specific to employee-owned devices.

Enterprises can also configure the BYOD platform to separate corporate and personal data on devices through customizable privacy policies that are based on device ownership. The prevention of data collection from the personal email, content or applications on an employee-owned device can be regulated to ensure the protection of personal privacy for employees. BYOD platforms can be customized to prevent the collection of GPS location, personal user information and telecom data, and employee-owned devices can be protected from a full device wipe or remote control.

BYOD for All

BYOD is applicable to any industry, regardless of the security necessities required to honor client demands on data security. For example, companies working in insurance, traditionally an industry that strives to minimize risk, are increasingly leveraging mobile devices and applications to improve productivity in areas such as sales, agent support and claims. Employees bene­fit from BYOD policies that allow corporate information to be accessed on personal devices, while privacy policies protect personal information. Lockton Companies, a global insurance brokerage firm that provides risk management, insurance and employee benefits, credits the introduction of BYOD for the increased productivity and ef­ficiency of its associates, while allowing for the secure access of any device, regardless of platform – anytime, anywhere. The simplicity of the BYOD enrollment process has also signi­ficantly decreased the number of IT Help Desk calls Lockton receives from its employees.

The BYOD platform has also been leveraged in the education industry for the betterment of student life. Institutions including Cal Poly Corporation (serving California Polytechnic State University) employ the BYOD platform to execute mobile point of sale in on-campus retail locations such as the campus bookstore, where line-busting speeds up the check-out process for students trying to get to class. Cal Poly’s BYOD program resulted in increased management productivity and efficiency, while ensuring mobile compliance and data security when dealing with credit card numbers and sensitive personal data.

While BYOD certainly has its security concerns, businesses leaders armed with the facts can weigh the pros and cons of the platform to decide whether a BYOD program makes sense for their organization. For thousands of businesses, the answer is a resounding “yes” – the benefits to both the enterprise and employees outweigh the potential risks, which can be alleviated by proper planning and strategic partnerships.

About the Author

Jason Blevins is the Account Executive, Large Corporate Enterprises for AirWatch.