Who doesn’t want cheaper and more flexible IT? BYOD has been the talking point in IT for some time now for how it can help ramp up enterprise mobility. When employees are able to use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops to do office work, they’re happier and more productive, at least in the short term. The business gets a lot more flexibility from employees, and can potentially save thousands of dollars every year because of not having to buy hardware. The potential downsides, however, haven’t ever disappeared from the scene. Strangely, some organizations are on the verge of totally discarding their “bring your own device” programs. Then, there are others who are revamping their BYOD strategies completely. Here are seven reasons why.
1. IT is just not able to manage security on user devices
Cutting-edge digital security demands the following:
- Operating systems to be regularly updated.
- Antivirus solutions to be installed and updated.
- Applications to be patched regularly.
- Firewalls to be set up.
- Encryption rules to be set up.
Only an IT department with mature mobile device management practices can manage so much. Enterprises just can’t expect users to manage all these security aspects. Particularly when this is not their primary job.
Enterprises require the capability to control, protect, and even delete data remotely from employee devices. Loss of internal or client data because of a data security breach on an end-user device could land a company in troubled waters. For SMBs in particular, the lack of sophisticated mobile device management capabilities means that BYOD becomes a potential securities nightmare.
2. Employee behavior is too unpredictable on own devices
User behavior on a company owned device is very different from that on a self-owned device. There are two kinds of behavioral issues that make BYOD a problem for enterprises.
First, it’s second nature for employees to use their personal devices for social media, entertainment apps, and personal communication. The temptation to sneak in personal stuff on company time becomes too much to resist. The result — severe dips in productivity.
Second, employees are not used to restraining themselves while browsing the web on their own devices. They’d think twice before downloading anything on a company-owned device, but would not think twice when it’s their own device. The result — the risk of phishing, malware, and other dangerous problems increases tremedously.
3. Unanticipated jumps in costs
Surprised? It’s understandable, considering how “lowering of costs” is cited as a major benefit of BYOD. Well, organizations often fail to factor in several costs and are often surprised later on. Here are some of these costs.
- Because companies don’t need to buy hardware in bulk, they often lose out on bulk discounts for other products and services from preferred vendors.
- Enterprises often need to buy licenses for a large number of security-related applications, that too for multiple operating systems and device types, because of the variety created by employee devices.
- The kind of mobile device management, network access control, and data protection capabilities that BYOD demands are expensive for companies because they need advanced applications and experts for that.
4. It creates bumps in the playing field
When you allow employees to bring in their own devices to do office work, it essentially means that the better device will create a difference in the productivity. In conventional settings where the company issues all IT assets, the playing field is leveled for the employees.
If employees have to spend their own cash to upgrade to a better device, it’s easy to imagine the kind of hit their morale would take. Particularly in an environment where the nature of work is such that better devices allow for quicker and better work, BYOD is a risky bet. The enterprise should invest in better hardware, rather than creating potential sinks in employees’ spirit of camaraderie.
5. The risk of data loss for both sides
Let’s get it straight. Modern mobile device management applications help enterprises ensure that company data remains separate from personal data on user devices. IT can control as to what a user can do with company data. Also, IT can remotely access and delete the data on the user’s device. This is required so that IT can delete data from devices if they’re stolen, misplaced, or when the employee leaves the organization.
This, however, isn’t a 100 percent reliable cover against data loss. It’s commonplace for end users to leave their devices out, where it’s possible for others to use them for a while. Such situations could cause data theft even without anybody noticing for years! On the other side, IT could end up deleting an employee’s personal data, and create unsavory situations for everyone. For many businesses, the risk of data exposure is so scary that simply discarding BYOD becomes a feasible option.
6. Licenses and legalities
We mentioned earlier that enterprises often need to buy a lot more licenses for applications to be used in end user devices. Some licenses only allow for software to be installed on company-owned devices.
To work their way around these limitations, enterprises use virtualization. However, licensing still becomes a headache for the legal teams. That’s because the same licensed software could be used for personal work, or for downloading pirated content from the web. Who takes the blame?
Companies often choose to say “no BYOD” rather than wrack their brains to find answers to the legal questions.
7. Employees just don’t want it
We often seem to assume that everyone working in tech is actually excited to mix work and personal life. There are people out there who genuinely don’t care about device capabilities. They’re happy working with the basic and dull office computers and don’t really want to ruffle things up. Rather than being looked upon as an employer that doesn’t respect boundaries, some companies would rather just abandon BYOD.
BYOD: Not for everyone
In spite of the well-documented benefits of BYOD, companies are ramping down their endeavors in this direction, because it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
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