BYOA: Moving beyond devices and boosting security through employee engagement

By Karin Kelley

Though a large majority of companies today have already implemented bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs and related procedures and policies to secure these new distributed environments, they are now turning their attention to the bring-your-own-apps (BYOA) trend. BYOA isn’t necessarily new to companies, as workers in financial firms were already bringing their own preferred spreadsheet programs from home to perform their jobs as far back as the 1980s.

However, with the explosion of smart devices and cloud-based applications that are available today, companies must accept the fact that these aren’t just trends anymore — they’re a part of everyday life. If these programs are implemented properly, they can deliver enormous benefits to organizations and their employees.

Moving beyond BYOD and into BYOA

Not only are employees increasingly using their own devices for work, but they’re also bringing their own apps because they are not satisfied with the usability and mobile functionality of the often-outdated company-issued ones. Though this can create a huge security headache for IT and business management, it can also benefit organizations by empowering employees in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Improved productivity and efficiency
    By letting employees use applications they are already accustomed to, they will inevitably perform better both on their own and collaboratively.
  • Greater employee satisfaction and creativity
    When faced with a specific business challenge, increasingly tech-savvy employees that are entrusted to solve these challenges on their own, without waiting for IT support, will become more engaged and ultimately enjoy their work more.
  • Better work-life balance
    When employees have the flexibility to log in to applications wherever they are on the network and from whatever device they choose while on the road, at home or in the office, they have more control over both their work and personal lives.

Tips to manage BYOA security

Despite all the benefits to employees, these mobile tools and trends can create a security nightmare for organizations. If employees use their own third-party apps on their own devices, it becomes very difficult to know where sensitive corporate data is — or, even more so, what’s being done with it. However, the fact is that employees are already using outside apps and will continue to do so as more become available, so organizations need to develop policies to find the right balance between employee satisfaction and productivity and corporate data governance.

First, businesses need to engage with employees on a regular basis to understand which apps they prefer to use and why those apps might be beneficial to the overall business and productivity. Second, businesses need to encourage collaboration while establishing clear guidelines regarding corporate security policies and risks. Last, businesses should provide a private app store that gives employees the ability to choose which sanctioned apps they prefer to use. The list of apps should be chosen based on ongoing employee feedback, as well as internal network and security analytics initiatives.

The consumerization of IT and proliferation of devices has forced businesses to adopt BYOD and BYOA policies and procedures whether they like it or not. Though very real concerns about security make some IT teams and business leaders reluctant to allow employees to use third-party productivity apps on their own devices, the fact is that they already are. However, by engaging with employees as if they were customers and giving them the power to make informed choices, these new ways of working will only increase user productivity and satisfaction.

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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