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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies represent the most profound change to the culture and economics of business communications in decades. The benefits include increased employee satisfaction, improved productivity and reduced costs. However, there are also challenges to widespread adoption.

The BYOD movement is no longer new. According to Gartner’s hype cycle it is entering the ‘slope of enlightenment’ phase where, following the initial hype, the industry starts to deal with the actual reality of adoption. However, the reality is that most employees already use their personal device for work.

This spells good news for organisations as it supports their employees’ desire to work more flexibly, resulting in dramatically increased productivity. The fact that employees use their own device also means there are important cost savings too. However, there are also numerous challenges and distinct threats.


Costs

While on the surface BYOD seems like a simple way to cut costs, the reality is that organisations with several thousand users on a corporate tariff enjoy significant discounts on hardware, calls – especially intracompany calling – and data. By shifting wholesale to a BYOD policy, employees typically expense business elements of their monthly bill which is likely to be on a less competitive consumer tariff. This can ultimately make BYOD a false economy. One way to avoid such an outcome is to establish a standard or maximum level of reimbursement that guarantees the business does not lose out financially.

Coverage & Support

It is important to consider that by embracing employees’ own devices and their respective mobile contracts, companies become hostage to a variety of different mobile operators’ level of coverage and support. This can result in some employees having patchy coverage in the office and slow responses to technical issues. Such problems are less likely to arise with an enterprise-owned mobile contract.

Security

Another key BYOD challenge surrounds security. With both smartphone viruses and device theft on the rise, the threat to corporate data is very real. Security firm Symantec highlighted this by “losing” 50 smartphones in several major cities and then recording how they were used. They found that 96 per cent of the devices were used, and 83 per cent had on-board corporate applications accessed.1

This has led to the emergence of Device Management, such as Vodafone Device Manager, which allows security to be remotely managed regardless of whether the device is personal or corporate-owned. This means organisations control who has access to what data or service and can be alerted to security breaches in real time and ensure private information on devices can be locked down or wiped remotely where necessary. The tightest security allows for the creation of a Dual Persona where all corporate data and applications are stored in a separate container on the device which is encrypted and cannot be accessed by the native OS.

While these measures secure devices, they do not secure their data connections which can be intercepted and data stolen. To combat this challenge, businesses can use Vodafone’s Mobile Threat Manager, developed with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, which establishes a secure VPN across cellular (i.e. 2G, 3G & 4G) and Wi-Fi connections to encrypt all data. This also allows traffic to be examined to prevent malware, viruses and phishing attacks infections.

As we have seen, the impact of the BYOD movement on business is significant and delivers opportunities and threats – perhaps in equal measure. While organisations may have initially walked blindly into the BYOD world by casually giving their keen early iPhone adopters access to corporate email, it has become clear that the issue needs to be brought under control in order to avoid the pitfalls. Vodafone Global Enterprise, alongside its partners, is helping many leading organisations in the world take this crucial step.