The pros and cons of the BYOD trend

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It doesn’t matter if you’re a young tech startup in Vancouver, or a financial corporate giant on Bay Street, every business is affected by the latest technical counter-culture movement called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The definition is self-evident from the name, and simply allows employees to use their personal devices, like smartphones or laptops, at work. Many firms support the trend, given that it eliminates the need to double-up on certain devices, and allows employees to use their preferred tech, instead of standard-issue corporate clunkers.

Not surprisingly, as with any trend, there are those on both sides of the BYOD issue. While the benefits are evident, some doubt they’re worth the threats they create. Chief among them are the added cybersecurity issues. By blending personal and work use on single device, IT professionals worry employees might compromise information, transfer viruses to the network or simply lose the device. And while this trend affects everyone, SMBs should be particularly careful to not simply accept a BYOD strategy without proper planning and foresight.

Small businesses often have to do anything they can to gain an advantage in a competitive market. As a result, they tend to try new approaches and gamble a little more than larger, more risk-averse companies. BYOD policies are particularly attractive to small business owners, because of the cost-savings associated with not having to buy corporate machines for everyone.

More than one-third of Canadian companies were hit by cyber attacks last year, but smaller companies were more likely to fall victim. Companies looking to adopt BYOD policies will need to seriously consider improving their security initiatives, and find solutions that maximize company data protection without crushing employee freedom. Simple solutions like stronger passwords, securing wireless networks and installing security software are great places to start, but aren’t enough

However, security isn’t the only hurdle to overcome in implementing a successful BYOD program. There are a number of other issues that can lead to failure. Here are some of the more common challenges, and what you can do to avoid the pitfalls:

  1. Failure to Communicate

BYOD is built on trust. Employees need to know they’ll have flexibility, and employers need to recognize employees will be diligent. Proper communication channels will help with this relationship. It’s important employees know their rights and understand what is expected of them. It’s also integral for employees have a way to discuss concerns and questions, as ambiguity can be fatal.

  1. Failure to Provide Education and Training

While the widespread usage of technology has increased the average person’s tech savviness, that doesn’t mean everyone is an IT security professional. Many people are unaware of cyber threats, and the dangers of phishing links and malware. Smaller companies should take time to educate their employees on how to protect their devices and data, especially in a BYOD culture. Employee negligence is a primary contributor to data breaches.

  1. Failure to Update and Patch

While most enterprise machines are programmed to update themselves and install the latest patches and system improvements, staff may not have the same settings enabled on their personal devices. Many employees could be running outdated operating systems, opening themselves to attacks solved by newer versions. Encourage employees to install the latest updates, and clearly explain the personal and professional benefits.

  1. Failure to Adopt the Cloud

Cloud computing provides many advantages for B2B firms. Not only are security benefits encourage cloud adoptions, but using the right cloud vendor will allow businesses to outsource a lot of IT management, which is great for smaller firms with few personnel. Second, cloud services are scalable, allowing you to adjust your needs as you grow and only spend for what you need. Finally, there are many cloud sharing services available, like DropBox or Google Drive. If you don’t designate an official service, employees will use a wide variety of different tools, which are difficult to manage and may not be secure.

BYOD can offer tremendous benefits, helping your business gain an advantage and maximize their output. However, it’s important to plan ahead. Map out why you are looking to use BYOD, which services you’ll need, and then work to prioritise BYOD security and avoid the pitfalls blocking you from success.

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Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado is a business technology consultant for several Fortune 500 companies. He is also a frequent contributor to news outlets such as Wired, Tech.co, and Cloud Tweaks. Rick enjoys writing about the intersection of business and new innovative technologies
Rick Delgado

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