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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Effective BYOD requires thorough planning

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Without question, bring your own device (BYOD) represents a tremendous, potentially transformative resource for all kinds of companies. With BYOD, a firm can greatly improve its overall productivity, flexibility, efficiency and worker satisfaction. In all of these ways, BYOD would appear to be a win-win for both the organization and its employees.

But while it is true that BYOD offers all of the benefits mentioned above, it is also true that the strategy presents numerous challenges. To ensure a company's security remains intact and its processes as efficient as possible, companies need to develop comprehensive BYOD plans, as Forbes contributor Adrian Kingsley-Hughes recently highlighted.

The whole picture
As Kingsley-Hughes noted, the first question that any firm considering BYOD must address is whether the solution is actually right for this particular organization. Despite all of the potential benefits companies may experience, the fact remains that BYOD is not ideal for every organization.

For example, for some firms, security is too important to accept the additional risk that BYOD carries. Others, however, can comfortably utilize BYOD so long as they invest in sufficient secure file sharing solutions that are specifically designed for BYOD environments. These tools can be extremely reliable, thereby mitigating the bulk of most firms' security concerns.

However, to ensure the effectiveness of these solutions, companies must be careful to select secure file sharing options that do not place a significant burden on employees. If a worker is forced to jump through a number of hoops to ensure the security of his or her messages, the worker will likely look for workarounds. This greatly increases the potential risk of a data breach. Only a low-maintenance security solution can provide true data protection.

Another issue which companies must consider when debating BYOD deployment is the distraction factor. As Kingsley-Hughes pointed out, BYOD can only prove effective if employees' devices have minimal distractions. Companies must consider and implement strategies for reducing alerts, notifications and games on employees' devices.

However, it is important to note that one of the most contentious issues inherent to any BYOD strategy is the balance between employee privacy and company oversight. If a firm's managers and decision-makers impose too many restrictions on corporate BYOD policy, employees may grow resentful, and the potential value of the solution will be undercut. Yet giving employees a free reign will likely result in insecure, suboptimal practices.

Consequently, corporate leaders should adopt a collaborative approach, working with employees to identify strategies and practices for the effective use of BYOD. By demonstrating a willingness to listen to and address employee concerns, managers can improve adoption of BYOD best practices among the workforce.

One last recommendation offered by Kingsley-Hughes is the need for backup in BYOD environments. He noted that to ensure security, employee devices should include remote wiping options. However, this means that any data on a mobile device may be deleted in case of emergency. Ensuring that this information resides elsewhere can guarantee that no data is lost even if the mobile device is misplaced or stolen.