Building the BYOD covenant

Employees are coming back from the holidays with a fresh batch of BYOD issues.

As employees start striding back into the office following their holiday breaks, IT personnel can confidently predict that at least a handful of their colleagues will be carrying shiny new smartphones and tablets in tow. But without proper oversight, workers may be unwrapping a fresh batch of security and compliance liabilities.

New game
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend ignited a variety of debates within the business community in 2012, and those discussions are sure to continue and evolve in the coming year. But while each company may have its own unique set of circumstances to weigh, IT teams should know that at least one thing is for certain. The genie is out of the bottle and empowered employees now have a much greater interest – and say – in the tools they use to get the job done.

Even traditionally rigid sectors such as healthcare, finance and government have been allowing employees to mix work and play through personal smartphones and tablets. So although companies could have kept BYOD regulation on the back burner in 2012, it is no longer a development they can afford to ignore.

“IT has been saying ‘this is the way,’ but in today’s world the dictator has been overthrown,” Gartner vice president Ken Dulaney told eWeek. “I’ve been told by organizations that they’re BlackBerry only, but then I walk down the hall and see iPads. IT is coming to grips with the fact that they’ve lost control.”

New rules
To make sure the inmates are not running the asylum, it falls to technology managers to initiate the conversation and work toward mutually beneficial goals.

“We tell our clients that winning in IT is a lot about setting up expectations,” Dulaney added. “If you surprise [workers], they get angry.”

To nip these problems in the bud, employees should be made aware that their BYOD privileges come with a tradeoff. To satisfy application control imperatives and compliance mandates that keep the operations safe, the individual will have to cede some ground to the organization. In most cases, this will include the acceptance of a formalized set of usage policies as well as the installation of mobile device management tools that provide the perspective IT managers need to do their jobs.

As a result, employees retain the freedom to go about their business in the manner that suits their style without placing the organization’s information assets at undue risk.

What are your BYOD plans for 2013? How are they being communicated across the organization? Let us know in the comments section below!

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.