iPhone or Android? Mac or PC?
You only have to ask those questions once to know that different people prefer working with different devices — sometimes very strongly. That’s one of the reasons businesses have begun adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices, which allow employees to do business on whatever device lets them be most productive.
BYOD appeals to companies and employees alike because it satisfies everyone’s priorities. Employees can use devices they like to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, and businesses can add mobility to their IT solutions without having to invest in hardware. It’s a win-win situation.
But as attractive as the concept is, it doesn’t come without challenges. Mobile devices are uniquely more vulnerable than a computer sitting on a desk in the office. Consequently, data security is a major concern.
BYOD also creates new challenges in terms of support. Companies may not have to invest in the devices themselves, but if they want to leverage the benefits of mobility, companies do need to invest in support and management for those devices.
Not every BYOD program takes off. Research suggests that, among enterprises, 1 in 5 of these programs fail because their policies are too restrictive.
Considering the scope of the security challenges mobile devices create, a restrictive policy is understandable. But the value of mobility is that it frees users from the traditional limits of IT. BYOD practices have to strike a balance between what they restrict and what they allow.
One way to fine-tune this balance is to adopt a mobile device management (MDM) policy founded on respect. If you respect the preferences and boundaries of your employees, they will respect the aims of your mobility policies. Here are a few ways to do that:
Sign an agreement. Outline the new requirements and practices in a document, and ask each of your employees to sign it. This helps clear up confusion, but it also helps emphasize how important mobile data security is and builds commitment and buy-in among your team. It’s an opportunity for you to discuss the importance of security and the rationale behind your policies.
Offer training and support. You shouldn’t expect your team to use mobile devices in the most secure ways if you haven’t explicitly taught them how. Offer training and ongoing tech support.
Respect personal data. Remote data wiping is a great way to protect data when a device is lost or stolen, but a blanket approach causes users to sacrifice personal data along with business data. Employ granular data wiping. Also be explicit that business admins will not access personal data or location data on personal devices.
Check in regularly. Once your policy is in effect, meet with your team regularly to see how things are working. If new security concerns arise, address them. Likewise, if you’ve unintentionally created new hurdles for your employees, refine your practices when possible.
BYOD is a unique intersection of the personal and the professional. Keeping that fact in mind when implementing your program will help make it a success for everyone.
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