The bring-your-own-device or BYOD trend has surged in recent years as hardware becomes more sophisticated and omnipresent within everyday life. Smartphone advancements have driven the consumerization of IT and potential for remote work opportunities. Company leaders are starting to understand that using mobile devices can enable staff members to be productive outside of the office, allowing workers to operate in the field and fulfill work tasks.
Organizations increasingly recognize BYOD as a necessity for future growth rather than a luxury. According to a 2016 report by Gartner, more than half of employees use personal mobile devices in the workplace, and an additional 23 percent of workers have received an employer-issued smartphone. The survey found that respondents are generally happy using this equipment over desktops and laptops. Even in workplaces that don’t enable BYOD, employees still use their own equipment as a matter of convenience. It’s in your business’s best interest to get ahead of the trend and support BYOD appropriately.
There are four major aspects that should be taken into account when implementing a BYOD program:
1. Create and Enforce a Formal Policy
BYOD isn’t something that organizations can just leave up to employee discretion; it requires considerable forethought and planning to ensure that it’s implemented effectively. A 2015 survey found that 53 percent of businesses didn’t have a formal BYOD policy in place, ComputerWorld reported. While more companies are starting to realize the importance of an established document, there are still likely many that are approaching BYOD in a more informal way. This leaves room for human error, data leaks and other damaging behaviors.
A formal BYOD policy will set employee expectations.
Business leaders, IT members and employees must work together to create a BYOD policy that is simple and easy to follow. Collaboration among these parties can lead to a plan that meets everyone’s needs. The formal policy will set clear expectations regarding mobile use and how workers should interact with company data on these devices. Although these might sound like a simple measure, it provides clear guidelines to follow and creates accountability across the company. Organizations should post the policies clearly through multiple formats, i.e. bulletin boards, company intranet portals, etc., and regularly ensure that they’re being enforced.
“Organizations will have to test out their mobile policies in real-world conditions.”
2. Test and Support
It’s unlikely that a BYOD program will be perfect from the beginning. As a result, organizations will have to test out their mobile policies in real-world conditions. Toolbox contributor Peter Kowalke noted that it will be important to try out technical solutions involved in the BYOD program and to ensure that defined personas get the apps and content they need. Testing the policy will help leaders identify gaps they may not have considered and adjust their strategies to better support users and mobile efforts. Whenever a new element is added to the BYOD environment, test it out and revise your plans to reflect any necessary changes to verify that users understand the proper procedures.
Even with a simple BYOD policy, it’s still likely that employees will need some guidance at launch. Rolling out BYOD in phases may be the most effective approach to ensure that each department is adequately supported and enrolled effectively. IT staff must be ready to provide assistance and information to improve employee understanding and verify that staff are using mobile devices appropriately.
3. Assess Viable Applications
Mobile devices are only part of the equation when it comes to BYOD; organizations also need to provide application resources that are secure for business data while still being flexible for employees. One means to do this is whitelisting and blacklisting certain programs. This ensures that only approved software will be allowed to execute. However, there is often some pushback from workers, particularly if authorized applications don’t meet their needs or have the features they require to do their jobs effectively.
Another approach could be to create an enterprise app store, providing a one-stop shop of useful programs that will improve day-to-day employee experiences. Organizations could even build their own enterprise apps, but many workers abandon this software if there’s a poor user experience, Mobile Business Insights stated. Getting staff input and providing support during the adoption process can help avoid early abandonment and shadow IT incidents. By approving software in intuitive designs and features that address specific challenges that workers face, they will be less likely to look for alternatives.
Security tools are essential in a BYOD program.
4. Implement Security Measures
Security is the biggest concern when it comes to BYOD implementations, and organizations are striving to leverage tools that will keep their data safe. Layered protections will have the highest success of preventing breaches and other incidents. Leaders must start with training employees as the first line of defense. Workers have a responsibility to uphold security and follow best practices that will avoid cyber security events. Businesses might have employees sign an agreement that builds commitment to BYOD policies. It will also be important to teach them how to use mobile devices in the most secure ways possible. Mandatory training sessions will help address emerging issues and ensure people understand what to look for.
Mobile device management and application control solutions should act as additional layers to your security efforts. These tools will define what behavior is appropriate for devices interacting with your network and which programs can interact with business data. Organizations must enforce patching and regular updates to prevent vulnerability exploits and maintain security. Businesses must also conduct assessments of security threats to keep up with the landscape and potential risks. Without knowing these weak points, it will be much harder to defend against security challenges. Policies should include protocols around the loss or theft of a device and the consequences of other dangerous behavior.
BYOD is becoming more of a requirement as workforces increasingly look for mobile and flexible opportunities. While this type of environment is certainly challenging, by following these tips, your organization can establish a successful BYOD program. For more information on how to secure your BYOD environment effectively, contact Faronics today