Do Personal Employee Devices Put Your Business At Risk?


Do personal phones belong in the office? A recent study conducted by Forrester Research on employees bringing their own laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, and other personal electronic devices to work contains some interesting statistics:

– 53 percent of employees use their own devices
– 77 percent of executives buy their own hardware
– 45 percent of executives buy their own software

The 53 percent in use is up 5 percent from last year. Altogether, the number of workers using their own devices is expected to swell to 406 million by 2016.

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is steamrolling along. And it’s impacting all-size companies. A 2011 study by Aberdeen Group shows that of 415 companies surveyed more than 75 percent let employees use their personal mobile devices for work.

This begs the question: Is it safe to let employees bring their own devices to work?

For the most part, it is. But if you outsource technical support, it adds to your worries about protecting data. Nevertheless, BOYD can work if it’s done right

Personal Employee Devices Can Be Rewarding

Allowing employees to use their own devices benefits employees and employers. For employees, BOYD reduces the devices they must carry and allows them to use familiar devices and operating systems, among other things. If employers cover service costs or provide technology allowances, employees save money.

Employers also benefit. BOYD increases productivity, keeps employees happy, and permits more flexible scheduling. BOYD also lets employees work remotely. As for cost savings, A Cisco study, for example, says a strong BOYD policy can save companies as much as $1,300 per mobile device.

Incurs Enormous Risks

If BOYD brings great rewards, it also carries its share of risk—especially when it comes to controlling data. Data is being stored and transmitted on devices and networks the company doesn’t own or control—devices that can easily be lost, hacked, or stolen. If the company also outsources technical support, BOYD makes protecting customers’ information that much harder.

In addition, BOYD poses risks to a company’s trade secrets, proprietary processes, and confidential information. It also sets the stage for conflicts with employees—many of whom may feel employers shouldn’t be regulating how personal devices are used. BOYD can even drive up overtime costs for employees engaged in “off-the-clock” work.

A Real Challenge

Clearly, BOYD is a challenge, and banning the use of personal devices is not an option. It’s the future for many companies. Employees will use them anyway with the company unable to monitor them. That leaves one option: Take measures designed to mitigate risks, like adopting and enforcing strict BOYD policies, which more and more companies are doing.

If you’re a technology company, you may have a leg up on everyone else. Sybase, for example, uses its Afaria mobile device management software to wipe devices and delete company data if personal devices are lost, stolen, or the employee leaves.

So what’s the bottom line? The decision to adopt a BOYD program comes down to a cost/benefit decision. Many companies are doing it because they think they’ll see significant benefits for everyone involved.

It’s Always A Risk

It’s always a risk allowing employees to take sensitive data out of the workplace on devices that can be easily lost, stolen, or hacked. If you’re also outsourcing technical support like help desk management or after-hours support, protecting customers’ data just got tougher.

But you can do things to mitigate the risks, like outsourcing IT help desk management to providers with stringent security measures like 31West.

But every case is different.

Ultimately, it comes down to doing what’s right for your company. When BOYD is done right, everybody wins.

What’s your company doing about the use of personal devices? We’d love to hear from you about it?

Ready to choose the best call center service provider that takes security seriously? Call 877-262-5030 to discuss how 31West can help you.

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