Without question, bring your own device (BYOD) is one of the fastest growing trends affecting the business community. Everyday, companies all over the world are adopting this strategy, allowing their employees to utilize their personal smartphones and tablets to perform work-related functions. While security risks remain a serious concern for many firms, the potential value of this tactic is widely seen as outweighing these issues.
The momentum of this trend was further emphasized by a recent Gartner report, which found that approximately half of the world's companies will require BYOD participation by 2017.
A growing trend
According to the Gartner report, BYOD's acceptance is increasing unevenly. Currently, firms with revenue between $500 million and $5 billion are most likely to utilize this strategy, while smaller businesses have been slower to embrace the solution. Businesses in India, China and Brazil lead the world in BYOD deployment, and the U.S. BYOD adoption rate is approximately twice that of European firms.
By 2017, Gartner expects that approximately two-fifths of firms will offer employees the choice between BYOD and company-provided devices, and only 15 percent of firms will never enact a BYOD policy.
Despite the rising popularity of BYOD, though, only 22 percent of the IT executives surveyed by Gartner said that they believe they have made a strong business case for this policy. The report recommended that decision-makers put forth a greater effort "to show the rest of the organization the benefits [BYOD] will bring to them and to the business."
The report also indicated that one of the biggest challenges that firms hoping to leverage BYOD must overcome is the question of reimbursement.
"Workers with an essential need to use a mobile device in their business expect to be compensated for its use, just as companies typically reimburse for the incremental cost of mileage and travel expenses," the report explained.
However, despite this expectation, only approximately half of current BYOD practices offer reimbursement of any kind. This is largely attributable to the overall lack of standard practices for BYOD compensation.
Developing such standards would likely encourage more businesses to embrace this strategy.
The report also noted that there are unavoidable costs which accompany a BYOD deployment. Perhaps most notably, these costs include the need for greater security and management tools.
However, these expenses are relatively minor compared to the potential benefits to be gained via BYOD, as well as the costs of a data breach or loss.
This is particularly true if companies invest in high-grade secure file sharing solutions that have been specifically designed to address the needs of BYOD deployments. These tools provide thorough protection for corporate data as it is accessed, sent and received via mobile devices without requiring significant steps on the part of the employee. This ensures that employees actually leverage the tools, as they can still conduct their work efficiently and effectively.