According to research by mobility services firm iPass, employers benefit an additional 240 more hours per year per employee from employees having access to work data when outside the office. These numbers will grow as technologies get smaller, lighter and broader in their capabilities. But so too will the risks as applications become increasingly more linked, far more intrusive and adept at intelligent data mining.
Writing in Law Gazette Jeanette Lucy (director for compliance, quality and learning with law firm network LawNet) says “in the run-up to Christmas 2012 British shoppers bought a tablet computer every second for employers” and of many of these devices will make their way into the work place. Some of these devices will be used in an unrecognised or purely unofficial capacity (such as the use of free WIFI connections) and other use will be enterprise supported (known as bring your own device to work or BYOD).
BYOD devices are not just confined to tablets, but also personal computers, smartphones and book storage devices. The list is expanding as new technologies become established, enhanced or developed.
Many employers can take advantage of BYOD with a strategy to reduce security risks, financial exposure, and management chaos. This strategy helps IT balance the risk against the benefits of consumerisation with a solutions infrastructure and BYOD program to help IT:
- Regain visibility and control by managing company data and limiting liabilities on personal devices
- Share corporate data confidently with secure access, backup, and file sharing
- Protect data wherever it goes with context-aware security
So what are the broad benefits and risks?
The most obvious benefits for employers is that of cost. In allowing employees to use their own technology, employers are not faced with the purchase cost and that of keeping the technology up-to-date.
Often underpinned by a written policy that dictates use of own devices are ‘at your own risk’ and another policy stipulating usage control measures helps to further reduce and manage the cost benefit.
The iPass research also suggests that ‘with more workers turning to their smartphones for work, data usage is growing rapidly across multiple devices and enterprises are seeing the effects in rising network costs’ this can significantly offset any cost benefit.
Of course the employees get to use the technology which Jeanette Lucy suggest “makes them happy and potentially more productive” but remember that performance is based on connectivity and is most likely to require some involvement of your technical support staff, especially when the technology fails, requires customisation or adaptation.
With some technology forecasters suggesting that most firms support the use of specific applications on BOYD devices, 2013 will be a good time for employers to look at their polices and ensure they meet the three aims;
- Regain visibility and control by managing company data and limiting liabilities on personal devices,
- Share corporate data confidently with secure access, backup, and file sharing,
- Protect data wherever it goes with context-aware security.
See Trend Micro for video and generic advice on the Consumerisation of IT and gaining control.
Read the iPass research, press release here.