Tuesday, October 11, 2011

BYOD – Yet another challenge for IT heads


For those, who are not familiar with the term BYOD, it stands for “Bring Your Own Device” and use it to achieve your work goals, be it within the company or anywhere else. A simple example for this is when an employee uses his own iPad to access his corporate emails, or use any other wi-fi enabled device to connect to corporate wi-fi network and use it to perform certain work related tasks. This has been in practice with the education and training companies, where the students / participants are expected to use their own devices, subject to meeting of the required minimal hardware and software specifications. Thanks to the last recession the recent explosion of the smart personal gadgets, companies are increasingly considering allowing this. 

The factors that drive the BYOD amongst corporate are:
  1.  Increased Productivity - Employees are expected to be happy working on their favourite stuff and in turn that is likely to bring in increased productivity.
  2. Better Mobility – Organizations with mobile workforce, who typically work on the move, feel that BYOD could offer better mobility and flexibility.
  3. Cost Savings – Though this may not be a real benefit, as organizations may end up spending considerably on mitigating the risks that BYOD brings on board, this is considered as a factor driving the increased adoption.
  4. Influence from senior executives – Typically if a senior executive buys a latest gadget and then using it in the workplace to do their work.
  5. Decreasing client installs – With increased adoption of Cloud based applications, all that a user need to access the enterprise application is a compatible web browser and this favours BYOD.

Certainly BYOD brings on board a lot of challenges to the IT department and here are some of the key challenges:
  1. Support – The IT department have to start supporting varying make and models of smart gadgets running different operating systems and web browsers. Unless the IT department comes up with the list of gadgets that they can support, it could soon be a nightmare.
  2. Licensing – If there are certain third party components to be installed on the smart devices, then it is better to have the licensing terms of the component vendor verified, as some vendors may impose restrictions in installing such components on devices other than those owned by the organization.
  3. Network and Application Security – When employees use the organization provided devices, they are appropriately hardened in line with the security policies of the organization. But in case of BYOD, the employees for sure would not like to have their devices hardened for work use, instead they would like to be the administrators of their own device and play with it in whatever way they want. On the other hand, employees may even go ahead and install more and more mobile apps of their choice, some of which could even be malware.
  4. Data Security – Whatever data that is cached or stored on the gadgets, as the devices are used for work are subject to be easily compromised.

For sure, this is yet another challenge that the IT managers should be ready to face soon, if not now.