Pros and Cons of a BYOD Culture

Bring your own device (BYOD) is the strategy of a company allowing employees and partners use their personal electronic device, such as phone, tablet, or laptop, for use and connectivity to access corporate data, or directly access the secure corporate network. This seems like a fairly common practice these days, but it still remains a hotly debated topic among tech insiders. While it can be a useful strategy for the employee, the employer has the task of dealing with the security issues and other pitfalls that may occur. To gauge if a BYOD policy is going to work for your company, please take a look at these pros and cons I have collected.

Lowers company costs – BYOD programs shift costs to the individual users, which includes the cost of the devices used, data plans, and maintenance/protection of the devices.
Employee Satisfaction – BYOD makes most employees happier because they are using devices of their own choosing, ones that they picked out to meet their specific needs. They are happier as well as more productive since the devices are well known to them and they don’t need to spend additional time for training.
Upgraded and Updated Systems – One of the biggest issues for IT support staff is the constant software updates and system upgrades needed in a working environment. When the employee owns the device, more times than not they are using one that is newest version and they are already conducting updates as needed.

Security Risks – This is the most obvious reason BYOD is considered less than ideal. A company has less control over devices it doesn’t own which could make it easier for sensitive data to be breached. Corporate data that is not only accessed but also stored on a private device is in danger of being either accidentally or intentionally compromised.
Incompatibility – The devices brought to work by individual users are likely to face compatibility issues. There could be version mismatches, devices that do not support certain protocol or can’t run specific software needed, conflicting platforms, or inadequate access.
Technical Support – A company will typically buy one specific brand of device and the IT support staff will be well versed in all of the common (and sometimes not so common) behaviors/issues. When you have employees bringing in several different kinds of devices, as well as different models and brands, the technical support staff will take longer to trouble-shoot issues and get results.

Implementing a BYOD policy is a big move for a company. It has its advantages, but a well strategized and implemented plan is needed to ensure procedures and policies are in place to minimize risks. Before implementation, a company should have in place policies that explain acceptable use of personal devices, how to secure data, protect privacy, usage compliance, and what happens when a device is lost/stolen or when employment ends. The success of a program will depend on how well an organization understands the pros and cons of a Bring Your Own Device company culture and how much effort they put into creating the proper environment for it.

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