Businesses have come a long way in a short time with BYOD. Over just a few years, we’ve seen companies’ responses change from “absolutely not!” to “absolutely!” as they begin to realize the economic and productivity benefits of allowing employees to use their own devices for work. But though we’ve come a long way, BYOD as an accepted business practice is still relatively new. As such, it requires careful thought and planning to get the maximum benefit with minimal risk.
The Importance of Establishing Policy
Because BYOD has been accepted practice for only a brief time, companies are bound to face situations in these early stages that they may not quite know how to address. The key is to think through these ahead of time and establish policies to address them before the fact. For starters, there’s the basic issue of whether BYOD will be mandatory. Are employees expected to use their own devices for work, or is it more of an optional convenience? The answer affects everything from budget planning to onboarding processes, so the sooner you decide, the better. Or what about how much access employees have on personal devices? In healthcare, for example, will they be able to access patient data on their personal laptops? How you respond to questions like these will depend on your company’s specific circumstances. The important thing is to answer now, so that you’re prepared when an issue actually arises.
Protecting Your – And Your Employees’ – Data
As the healthcare example above suggests, data security is a big issue with BYOD. You must weigh the need to provide convenient access against the need to keep data secure. Some companies will simply limit access to certain kinds of information; others may set up a hosted server to reduce security requirements for employees’ personal devices. And what about when an employee leaves, potentially taking sensitive data along with them? Will you want to have their device remotely wiped, erasing personal data such as photos and contacts, too? If so, it’s better to decide now than to spring it on someone when the time comes. Consider, also, the security of personal information in relation to everyday IT monitoring. Will you monitor personal devices as a matter of policy? Will it be part of that policy to monitor for system issues only and not gather data on what’s accessed? Will you make exceptions – for example, in cases where you suspect illegal activity? Again, regardless of what you decide, do it early to avoid problems later.
Getting Help: How a Managed Services Provider Can Help
As you might surmise from this post, managing BYOD is much more than just responding to requests to connect employees to email. It means thinking through who has access, on what devices, to what data; responding with thoughtful decisions; and putting policies in place as early as possible to ensure that you’re prepared. That can be a lot to handle, and managed services may be the answer. Whether you need help setting up policy on the front end, or delivering services in accordance with policy, or both, a managed services provider can help negotiate your path through the new and changing world of BYOD.
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Bill McCharen, COO