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The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has been impacting businesses since 2009, and while there are benefits to having a BYOD model, there are also pitfalls. For instance, managing a wide array of Smartphone and Tablet models can become a costly headache for IT teams. Plan subsidies (should your business provide them) can add up because of processing fees. There is a risk that your employees will spend too much time conducting personal business at work. Finally, there are security risks associated with making company data accessible on personal devices. If you're going to adopt a BYOD model, you need to adopt management strategies that keep things from spiraling out of control. Here are some things you can do to ensure that BYOD is a success for your business.
Research before you adopt
The surest way for things to spiral out of control is if you let BYOD develop without planning and structure. Conducting research is essential, especially when it comes to understanding how much mobile plans (or plan subsidies) will cost, how difficult it will be to manage a variety of different devices and operating systems, and what the security risks are. For instance, while you might think you're saving money by offering partial plan subsidies (as opposed to footing the entire bill), there are processing costs associated with employee expense reports. An Aberdeen Group report from 2013 listed an average cost of $18 per expense report. While it may not cost that much for your business, if you add any amount to the cost of the subsidy you might not be saving as much as you thought. You need to find out exactly how much BYOD will cost (or save) your business.
Likewise, you need to do research on device management and the potential security pitfalls and solutions that come with BYOD. Should you let employees use any devices they want, or should they have to choose from a limited menu? What rules and policies will be in place? What Mobile Device Management (MDM) will you use? What kind of burden will BYOD place on your tech staff? These questions should be dealt with before you launch your BYOD. The good news is there are plenty of resources for research. Google searches on BYOD can yield a wealth of information from blogs, tech and business magazines. You should also contact some vendors directly, such as reputable wireless data providers and MDM software specialists. Discuss your options. Get some prices, and negotiate.
Your company mobility policy
Once you have an idea of what you want your BYOD to look like, it's time to craft a detailed written company policy. Your policy should clearly outline the rules and regulations, such as: which employees are allowed to use personal devices; which devices are eligible; who pays for phone and data plans (employees, the company, or both); who's responsible for device maintenance; your security policies; guidelines about acceptable personal use during work; and a clear overview of your compliance enforcement policy that covers all your rules and regulations. Your mobility policy should leave no doubts about what's expected from both you and your employees.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) software
Even with a good mobility policy, it can be difficult to ensure that employees are following the rules. This can be especially concerning when it comes to security. Fortunately, MDM software can help you regulate mobile device use by forcing compliance with security measures (such as passwords). MaaS360 from IBM is a great example of the kind of software that's now available to business leaders. At a cost that ranges from $3 to $9.75 per device/per month (depending on the specific options you choose), MaaS360 can be installed on a wide range of popular devices (like Android phones) and can ensure that your employees' devices are always locked down when they're not in use, and that they use strong passwords for access. MaaS360 lets you set limits on functions such as copying and pasting, and can be set to wipe data from devices which are lost, stolen or belong to former employees.
Making BYOD work
BYOD isn't for everyone, but it can be a success if you plan carefully and stay in control from the beginning. Doing a thorough cost analysis can help you decide if BYOD is financially viable; research on implementation can help you manage things smoothly and ensure that there are no doubts about what is expected from both you and your staff.
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David Ryan has many years of experience as a freelance writer and is active covering science and technology stories in the United States. He also enjoys writing short stories and traveling.