What is BYOD? How enterprises can support this mobile trend

By Karin Kelley

If you find yourself asking, “What is BYOD?” you’re likely already playing catch-up with your workforce. The fact is that many of your employees have probably adopted the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model and are using their personal devices for work purposes. Whether it’s checking email, sharing and/or downloading business documents and, most importantly, accessing the corporate network from devices that aren’t issued or managed by the organization, BYOD is a phenomenon no enterprise can afford to ignore.

Moving from “What is BYOD?” to “How will we support it?”

With more employees carrying smartphones and tablets around, organizations must assume they will use the devices to aid with their work. A report from Gartner estimated that more than 2.4 billion mobile phones will be shipped globally in 2016, as compared to 232 million traditional desktops and laptops. In light of this, businesses need to carefully plan and implement BYOD programs to ensure employees can be more productive and sensitive corporate data is protected.

Because the BYOD phenomenon is here to stay, there are several steps businesses must take to develop a program that supports it.

Create a comprehensive policy

BYOD policies will vary based on your company’s unique needs, but the following are several basic questions you need to answer before you invest in BYOD-related technology:

  • Which devices will be supported?
  • How will you handle data plans?
  • What are the security and compliance requirements?
  • Which apps are permitted to be downloaded or accessed?
  • How will you handle privacy when personal and corporate information is being accessed on the same device?

Download Gartner report on managed mobility services

Discover devices

Organizations must deploy tools that can discover which devices are actually connecting to the corporate network and establish clear policies with users about what is and isn’t allowed.

Provide a seamless user experience

If the BYOD process is too complex, users will inevitably cut corners. Organizations should make registration as simple as clicking on an email link. Further, authorized user agreements should be clear, and employees should be notified when changes are made.

In addition, organizations should provide employees with intuitive self-service platforms to change passwords, locate lost devices and remotely wipe sensitive corporate data from any compromised device.

Keep personal data separate

To ensure both personal and corporate data are kept private, organizations must deploy a mobile device management (MDM) platform that can parse the two. MDM tools should be able to wipe corporate data from a compromised device while leaving personal data intact or, in certain circumstances, wipe entire devices.

Manage data usage

By setting thresholds on data use, organizations can prevent users from accruing excessive charges, whether they would be covered by the business or the user. Businesses should also make sure devices automatically connect to approved Wi-Fi networks to minimize data charges.

Enforce security

To enforce mobile security, MDM tools should allow security administrators to do the following:

  • Enforce password and other authentication policies
  • Lock or unlock devices
  • Restrict access to unapproved applications
  • Place date and time restrictions on network accessibility
  • Prevent users from downloading and sharing sensitive documents and data
  • Remotely kill or wipe compromised devices

Today, the question should no longer be, “What is BYOD?” but rather, “What can I do to facilitate it within my enterprise?” Though benefits are clearly offered through lower expenditures on mobile devices and boosted productivity, organizations must be extremely careful when planning, implementing, managing and supporting the personal devices employees will use to access sensitive data on the corporate network.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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