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The State of BYOD/BYOA: Lessons Learned in the Field

In almost every corporation across the country, professionals are armed with powerful but dangerous tools - mobile devices.
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Smartphones and tablets are becoming commonplace in many households, with many owners of these devices opting to use them for professional purposes, as well. By 2018, approximately 70 percent of all workers will use personal devices for work purposes, according to Gartner Research. Personal app use is likely to see similar growth, with 25.6 percent of employees already using enterprise social networking apps, 22.1 percent using personal file sync, and 30.7 percent using IM and VoIP apps in a corporate setting.

As the number of employees using personal devices and apps continues to rise, experts are concerned about security implications. Enterprises are finally beginning to implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own App (BYOA) security policies. Whether a business deploys security software or relies on those policies, however, a few of the following lessons learned can help businesses moving forward.

Prevent or embrace?

While some businesses have responded by diligently working to create policies, others have banned use of personal devices altogether. Tinker Air Force Base prohibits employees from plugging personal electronics into computers--even flash drives. Many businesses require every app be approved by IT, while 16 percent of organizations prohibit outside apps altogether.

Instead of battling personal device use, many organizations are choosing instead to embrace it. Using some of the many technology solutions available, organizations can gain control over all connected devices to prevent problems.

Unsecured wireless devices

Without realizing it, many users are putting both personal and business data at risk every day. Statistics from Cisco state that 51 percent of people connect to unsecured wireless networks on their smartphones, despite the fact that experts have repeatedly warned against this. For organizations, education can help prevent this behavior by disabling the “automatically connect to wireless networks” feature on every smartphone and tablet.

Control without intrusion

Today’s tools give administrators more power than ever over every device connected within an enterprise. However, it’s important to consider employee morale when closely monitoring each employee. If every action an employee takes on a work-issued device is questioned, the “Big Brother” feeling could impact worker productivity and retention. This is especially true of businesses that choose to block every application and website that isn’t directly work related.

As BYOD and BYOA see continued growth, enterprises will be challenged to maintain control without intruding on employees’ right to privacy. Since many personal apps can be used to be more productive and effective in the course of daily work, professionals should be free to use personal devices and apps. Enterprise-level software solutions may be the best way to safeguard networks without infringing on employee freedoms.

IMAGE: shutterstock
Last updated: Jul 1, 2014

RAMON RAY | Columnist

Editor and technology evangelist at Smallbiztechnology.com, which covers technology trends for small business. His latest book is the Amazon.com best-seller Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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