The rate at which organizations of all kinds are embracing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies is, in the eyes of many industry observers, shocking. In only a few years, BYOD has gone from a rarely implemented, questionable strategy to a widespread phenomenon. Many firms' decision-makers now feel that if they do not pursue BYOD, they will struggle to remain competitive in their given sectors. This is an understandable concern. BYOD is a powerful force, allowing employees to become more efficient and flexible. As more organizations adopt these solutions, BYOD is increasingly being seen as a standard feature for any industry, and workers will be frustrated if they are not given the option to utilize their personal smartphones and tablets for work-related purposes.
As with many new technologies and strategies, though, BYOD must be approached with caution to minimize risk. In fact, security concerns are frequently cited as one of the biggest impediments preventing more firms from embracing BYOD more completely.
To guarantee data protection while leveraging BYOD, firms must follow a number of key guidelines. Among the most significant of these is investing in the right tools, devising the right strategies and, crucially, making these resources clear and well-understood by employees.
The first two points cited above are fairly straightforward. Without the proper tools in place, organizations' employees will not have the means of protecting corporate data while leveraging BYOD. Secure file sharing, for example, can prove invaluable, as it protects files as they are sent and received via personal devices without imposing too great a burden upon employees. This means that workers will have no reason to resist using this resource, thereby improving data protection for all affected personnel.
Strategy is also essential. The firm's IT leaders must develop clear policies concerning the use of data protection tools and personal devices for work. Allowing employees to devise their own standards will likely lead to significant inconsistencies which will put all corporate data at risk of breach or exposure.
Yet both of the above criteria are only relevant if the organization makes a concerted effort to ensure that there is sufficient clarity concerning every aspect of BYOD. Employees should never feel as though they are uncertain as to what is allowed, what is forbidden and what is recommended when it comes to using their smartphones and tablets for work.
Unfortunately, organizations often fail to achieve this goal. Even if tools and official strategies exist, firms' leaders frequently do not make a concerted effort to convey this information to all relevant employees. An initial announcement may be made, for example, but this alone is not enough to ensure clarity. Over time, workers will forget the official policies, or new situations will arise which do not have clear, applicable guidelines. Employees will have to resort to guesswork, and this creates risk.
By regularly updating BYOD policies and making a consistent effort to ensure that all workers are fully aware of these guidelines, firms can significantly improve the security, and quality, of their BYOD efforts.