15/06/2012

By Francesca James, techbubbles

BYOD (Bring your own device) seems to be the latest buzz phrase dominating business technology conversations. The concept has gained momentum over the last couple of years due to the seemingly endless releases and updates of new, fashionable ‘must have’ mobile devices entering the marketplace.

The bi-annual State of SMB IT survey that looks at adoption trends among small and mid-sized businesses recently revealed that seventy-five per cent of small and medium-size business (SMBs) currently support the personal devices employees bring into the workplace. However, the survey also showed that IT professionals within small businesses are split on supporting BYOD. While 20 per cent fully embrace the trend as the future, 35 per cent concede that it works well for some devices, but not for others and 25 per cent claim it’s a headache for their IT department, with the remaining 20 per cent having not yet formed an opinion.

I caught up with Sarat Pediredla, partner and co-founder of Hedgehog Lab who said that as a business they are 100% for BYOD. Sarat said that for them, ‘it has been company policy from day one’. As a small business that has a primary focus on developers & designers, Sarat says that ‘the equipment they need usually costs thousands of pounds and is expensive to maintain’. He adds that ‘every developer prefers their own hardware and software, and personal preferences can vary hugely on how these machines are set-up. This includes personal devices like phones and tablets’. Sarat believes that ‘in this environment, enforcing a standard hardware set-up simply does not work and ends up impacting productivity’. BYOD also ensures that ‘employees can always have the latest and best in devices, which might have otherwise been hindered by corporate purchasing policies’.

Sarat does say however, that despite this, of course, there are risks surrounding employees having sensitive data and information on their devices. Sarat says that at Hedgehog Lab, they have ‘mitigated this simply by common sense rules & procedures, training, and the efficient use of cloud tools that enable the data to be stored in the cloud and accessible in a secure way from any device.’

On his blog BringYourOwnIT.com, Cesare Garlati , Vice President of Mobile Security at Trend Micro discusses the ‘darker side of BYOD’. He says that ‘many employees don’t understand the implications of using their personal devices for work and many companies don’t understand that they are in fact liable for the consequences’.

So what are the potential pitfalls for businesses?

Cesare Garlati says that ‘besides preserving data security and managing a myriad of personal devices, companies must also consider a new set of legal and ethical issues that may arise when employees are using their own devices for work.'

Here are just three of those pitfalls:

- Pitfall #1: Remote deletion of personal data: Under what circumstances (if any) should the company have a right to remove any non work-related content from an employee-owned device?

- Pitfall #2: Tracking individual location: What corporate applications might ‘track’ the location of an employee-owned device? Is the employee aware that this is possible?

- Pitfall #3: Monitoring Internet access: Should accessing questionable websites be restricted, when an employee is also using a personal device for work?

Follow @techbubbles for our next article where, Cesare will recommend three best practices to help business owners strike the delicate balance between employee privacy and corporate liability.

We’d love to hear your experiences with BYOD — have you opted for it? Has it been successful?

What have been your stumbling blocks?

Let us know via the blog, or say hello on Twitter

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