13 August 2012 18:30:00 AEST 2 MIN READ

IT debates: the verdict on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)


Bring your own device, commonly abbreviated to BYOD, is one of the biggest buzzwords in IT today.

It refers to employees bringing their own devices to work (be they smartphones or tablets) and using them to do business.

The trend is user-led rather than business-led, and it’s being driven by the increasing consumerism of IT.

BYOD is gaining traction in Australia with research from IDC showing that 23% of businesses in Australia and New Zealand already have some kind of strategy in place to manage the trend. And a further 27% say they plan to have a policy in place over the next 18 months.

Although the trend is consumer-driven, many businesses are starting to recognise the benefits BYOD delivers. For example BYOD can mean less strain on IT budgets because companies no longer have to purchase expensive devices.

What’s more, the flexibility BYOD brings can increase employee productivity and user experience.

But making a decision around BYOD may not be clear-cut. Let’s look at some of the key issues.

What are the Costs of BYOD?

Does BYOD lead to lower or higher costs?

Cisco is a strong advocate of BYOD and quotes their own cost savings of 17-22%. But others have found the reverse to be true. IDC research shows that most organisations see a 7-10 per cent increase in costs with the introduction of BYOD. Many organisations do not take into account the hidden costs of reimbursing employees, paying for a number of mobile apps, and also the resources it takes to support multiple devices.

Who supports BYOD?

By employing BYOD rather than choosing to purchase their own devices, companies may have to support a number of different operating systems. If there is a problem with a device, is it the job of the support desk to troubleshoot or are users expected to take their device to the provider?

Is BYOD secure?

Security is one of the biggest areas of concern for BYOD. Devices used for frequent travel that store both confidential company and personal data are at higher risk of loss or theft. Consequently they must be able to be remotely wiped. Awareness and understanding that this policy is non-negotiable should be clear, and employees must accept that company security supersedes retention of personal data.

Theft is after all, still the number one cause of data loss – and that leads into a further concern.

Companies must also ensure that company data is safely backed up on their network. A company’s Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP) should stipulate a process for company data to be stored centrally and not just on a personal device.

Is BYOD inevitable?

Some people think that BYOD is an inevitable trend. After all, it’s difficult to prevent devices entering the workplace and devices are gaining popularity all the time.

Prudent companies will have a BYOD strategy in place ready to take advantage of the benefits and minimise the potential pitfalls.

Your verdict

What is your company’s take on the BYOD trend? If you already have a BYOD policy in place, what precautions do you take to ensure it’s effective?

Let us know in the comments.