The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Dilemma

Everyone’s been talking about BYOD this past year, whether they define it as “Bring Your Own Device” or “Bring Your Own Disaster.” The concept is fraught with both risks and rewards for employers and employees alike, and its implementation has often outpaced the establishment of comprehensive policies to manage those risks. In 2013, you can expect that to change—policy is going to catch up because businesses can’t afford for it not to.

The BYOD Balance

Allowing employees to use personal devices for work has some great merits. Employers save money by no longer purchasing pricey company cell phones, while employees gain the convenience of using one device at work and home—no more juggling smartphones. Plus, instead of being mandated to use a particular brand, employees enjoy the freedom of choice—iPhone, Android, or what-have-you. They’ll take better care of a device they paid for, and they’ll feel more like their employer trusts them, which is good for morale.

Of course, for many employers, that’s a very uneasy trust—a temporary one, even, that will last only until stronger policies can be enacted. And here’s why: BYOD is a security nightmare. There are so many variables when employees choose their own devices and applications, when employees have all-but-unrestricted control over devices that will access secure company information. Even with completely trustworthy employees, phones can be lost and stolen, or disposed of without being fully wiped. In fact, it’s estimated that 20-90% of recycled or secondhand mobile phones retain sensitive data. That’s a scary statistic for corporate security officers.

Bye Bye BYOD?

So, in the coming year, it seems highly probable that businesses will be investing in secure BYOD solutions and policy revisions. We’ll likely see an assortment of containerized application solutions that grant employers full control over how a device is used for work, without requiring access to the rest of the device. Also, employees should expect to see new requirements regarding how they dispose of BYOD phones.

It won’t be easy to please both employers and employees with BYOD arrangements. It’s going to require compromises and trust on both sides of the line. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing—a little bit of mutual trust can greatly improve your work environment.

photo credit: CA Technologies via photopin cc


Brent Urmey is an avid reader and writer on a variety of subjects, including social media, SEO, the Wireless industry, and life in Lancaster County, PA. He is a graduate of Drexel University and a survivor of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. You can connect with Brent on Google +.