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BYOD or Bust Part 2: The Risks and Rewards for your IT Department

Previously, I wrote about how the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement can empower your sales teams with a level of technical familiarity, mobility and flexibility that can significantly speed up time to close. While the benefits of BYOD are clear for your organization’s employees, allowing your workforce to bring their own smartphones, laptops and tablets into your company’s network presents a series of unique challenges to your IT department. The security risks can increase exponentially as unfamiliar, unsecured and unmanaged devices are coming in and out of your doors each day.

However, BYOD also presents benefits to IT departments—benefits that go beyond simply boosting employee morale. A well-implemented and managed BYOD environment can help IT departments reduce equipment costs, react to changing conditions, deliver software solutions and contribute to a business’s overall culture of innovation by facilitating employee mobility and flexibility.

One of the primary reasons for BYOD’s increasingly widespread enterprise penetration is that businesses simply cannot completely stop or control the practice. In order to create a modern and secure organization, it is vital that IT departments understand the risks and rewards of BYOD and how to balance them.

The Risks

The primary risk of a BYOD environment is security, prompted by the sacrificing of control that IT departments traditionally maintained in organizations that primarily used company-issued devices. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets may not be fully secured with PIN codes or passwords, allowing sensitive company information to be freely accessible outside your company’s firewalls should a device get lost or stolen. An employee who utilizes their own devices professionally who leaves the company does not have to surrender those devices, raising questions again about data security. And without being able to control the protections on a device, employee-owned computers or smartphones are much more likely to bring malware into your organization.

However, these risks, while seemingly dire, are not impossible to address. As BYOD continues to gain traction, software developers and device manufacturers are creating ways to manage these issues, including separate work and personal modes on devices with different security permissions, the ability to remotely lock down or wipe devices and more.

The Rewards

Depending on the breadth of your organization’s BYOD implementation, the rewards can range from happier employees to dramatic reductions in equipment and support costs. Every smartphone, tablet, or laptop you allow an employee to bring into the office is one less line item on your equipment budget. Support requests can also drop significantly because employees are utilizing devices that they’re already familiar with and comfortable using.

However, arguably the most important benefit is equipping your employees with familiar and flexible tools to empower today’s anywhere, anytime work. Here at PGi, we firmly believe that work is not a place, and we know from experience that mobility is top-of-mind for every organization, from the executives to the entry-level associates. Mobility breaks down the boundaries of time and geography, allowing for real-time, near-time or asynchronous collaboration across global and departmental boundaries.

The Balance

As with many technology issues, the balance your IT department is able to strike will depend largely on the nature of your organization. Different industries require different levels of security and compliance and for some, allowing unsecured devices to walk in and out of the building daily will never be an acceptable practice. However, with mobile and flexible workers on the rise, I don’t believe the BYOD movement to be a fad; the goal should be to educate your IT team members on the ways to address these new security concerns in order to deliver increased productivity to your organization’s workforce. Modern security technologies can still facilitate control, even on employee-owned devices, such as blocking unsafe websites or locking down features while connected to the company network.

To truly create an innovative and forward-thinking company that’s not playing catch-up to your competition (or your customers), you should embrace consumerization’s rewards and put systems in place to manage its risks—because the BYOD movement may happen at your company whether you’re controlling it or not.

To learn more about BYOD’s impact on businesses of all sizes, download PGi’s free eBook “The Future of Business Collaboration” today!

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