byod security

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has earned a lot of attention in recent years. Used to describe the explosion of personal devices entering the workplace (particularly among mobile workers), the acronym is loaded with both great promise (more productivity, employee satisfaction, mobility) and peril (security threats, expensive maintenance, IT management headaches) for the enterprise.

Gone are the days when an enterprise could issue a single corporate-approved work device and expect employees to get onboard. Today, employees want to use their own devices at work (whether in the office or on the road) and have the flexibility to use them for an ever-growing list of business functions (email, reporting, finance, business intelligence, etc.).

While IT managers have done their best to keep up, organizations are becoming overwhelmed by the rising volume and variety of personal devices entering the workplace (smart phones, tablets and even phablets).

This idea was recently backed by Gartner, which, in its 2014 predictions, cites the BYOD trend as placing “tremendous strain on IT and Finance organizations”. So what is enterprise IT to do?

Much like Gartner, I agree that more than ever, now is a good time to revisit your organization’s BYOD policies. Too many firms still handle personal device management on a case-by-case basis. This is not sustainable. Nor is it possible to support every device and functionality demanded by your workers.

That’s why 2014 is the year to think about the policies you’ll need to have in place to strike a healthy balance with BYOD; policies governing things like:

  • Document retention. How long should corporate information live on your employees’ personal devices?
  • Replacement plans. If an employee’s device is lost or damaged, who foots the bill?
  • Data back-up. When data from work and life mix on an employee’s device, outlining what gets backed up is critical.
  • Business support. Outlining what’s supported and what features your organization is willing to offer for certain types of devices can be extremely useful for employees as they weigh the costs and benefits of bringing their personal devices to work.

BYOD is all about balance – balancing the needs of your employees with the realities of running an organization cost effectively and securely. If you are either too rigid or too flexible, things can unravel quickly.

For more tips, I encourage you to check out this article, which discusses how a tiered approach can help you set better policies governing BYOD.

And don’t miss Forrester’s whitepaper on BYOD management in the enterprise – available as a free download from the RingCentral resources page.