The Drawbacks of BYOD

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device practices have been on the rise. This is the policy where employees are required to bring their own devices to work. It ranges from buying your own mobile phone to replacing a traditional workstation with a personal laptop. At first, the policy may be attractive to employers. There is cost cutting because it places the burden on employees to purchase their own devices as well as lowering IT support costs because employees can maintain their own equipment. It also allows employees to personalize their work style, using devices that they enjoy. However, there are disadvantages to adopting a BYOD policy. Security is a greater concern. A BYOD policy might actually lower productivity. Finally, IT costs may actually increase to support such a myriad of devices.

With smart phones and laptops replacing traditional desktop workstations, data can easily move in and out of the company. It’s simple to see how this is a security concern. Some devices are more secure than others. Companies need to think ahead and create procedures for how, when and where employees can access proprietary data and applications. This may cause a greater demand for thin client machines, devices that have all their application run off the cloud rather than kept on their hard drives. It may be cheaper to have a standard secure cloud that everyone accesses rather than have a dozen security protocols for as many devices, however appealing having a personal device is.

Employees usually like BYOD because they feel more comfortable with their own devices. These personal devices afford them more freedom because they can work at home and at the office. That blending might not be the most healthy. We’ve all heard of the Blackberry addiction, where employees are constantly connected to work. The bleeding between work and personal lives can work in the reverse direction too. Personal devices have not just work but leisure applications as well. It’d be easy to switch between different the aspects of our lives. A lack of focus is a problem that many people deal with, and it may get worse as our mobile devices distract us from the task at hand be it work or at home.

BYOD, at first named the consumeration of enterprise, started at the higher level. Executives wanted to use their own devices when with clients. These executives are demanding that their IT departments manage the maintenance of their devices and as BYOD spreads to a company’s rank and file, everyone else will as well. It’s one of the few instances where trickle down has been observed. Today, there are literally dozens of brands of smart phones and laptops. They have thousands of combinations of features. IT departments are often tasked with servicing them all while in the workplace. That’s a daunting task. A different set of tools and skills are needed to fix an iPad as opposed to an tablet that runs on Android. IT staffs may need to be augmented in order accommodate, increasing costs.

The American office job used to invoke images of hundreds of a gray cubicles with workers tapping away on identical computers. Now, there is a little more variety. Every company is handling it differently. To some it’s a headache and to others it’s a boon. It all comes down to company philosophy. Is it conformity or solidarity? Is it personalization or lack of focus?