Though new reports are released almost daily on the rise of mobile technology and cloud computing, only 16 percent of companies surveyed have some kind of “Bring Your Own Device” policy, allowing employees to use their smartphones and tablets instead of being issued a company device.
There are many attractive reasons to consider implementing a BYOD policy: It saves your company money on hardware, and employees are more productive because they know how to use the equipment, just to name a couple. But before implementing a BYOD program, you need to step back and consider several variables. These nine components will help you implement a policy that meets your business's needs.
1. Form a team. BYOD programs are more than just IT initiatives. Cisco IT brought together representatives from several departments, including IT, security, legal, HR, sales, services, engineering and operations to create their program. The Cisco Mobility Services team enables Cisco employees to work their own way using multiple devices all across the globe. Brett Belding, senior manager of IT Mobility Services at Cisco, explains the reason: “Device choice is a reflection of your entire corporate culture.”
2. Define what “device” means. David Ciccarelli, CEO at Voices.com, an online marketplace that connects businesses with professional voice talent such as commercials, audiobooks, cartoons, video games, movie trailers and more, says his company purposely kept the definition general. “Our definition is broad, which future-proofs the policy when the next big thing comes along," Ciccarelli says. "We don't name specific devices to avoid updating our policies with each product cycle by Apple, Samsung or BlackBerry.”
3. Decide who pays for what. Even employers without BYOD policies have to address expenses when it comes to employees using their mobile devices for both personal and professional matters. Margaret Keane, shareholder at law firm Littler Mendelson, P.C., says spelling it all out on the front end should save headaches later.
“Policies should be distributed to employees for review and signature before they're allowed to use a personal device to connect to the corporate network," Keane says. "It should be clear that the employee is receiving consideration to which he or she is not otherwise entitled—for example, remote access to corporate data and network, technology allowance, employer provided device, employer payment or reimbursement for wireless plan or roaming charges used for personal and business communications.”
4. Know how to handle lost, stolen and broken equipment. Keane also emphasizes the importance of informing employees how to properly handle lost or stolen devices. “The BYOD agreement should include provisions for immediate notification of a lost or stolen device, remote wiping of the device, producing the device for inspection upon request, abiding by user terms that protect data security by prohibiting malware, sharing devices and using ‘jailbroken’ devices and various other terms that an employer may include.”
5. Explain protocols for WiFi access. Alan Brill, senior managing director at Kroll Fraud Solutions, cautions companies about the dangers of unencrypted wireless transmissions. “Sure, the fact that the coffee shop offers free WiFi is nice, but it isn’t exactly secure," he says. "Similarly, how much will you trust the hotel’s ‘free printing’ system? These are issues that need to be covered and understood.”
6. Learn how to incorporate accessible devices. Dana Marlowe, principal partner at Accessibility Partners, recommends that employers consider training or sensitivity training for other employees when they encounter accessible devices like screen readers or Braille displays. “Some employees might be unsure of what these peripheral objects do or annoyed if it takes a small amount of extra time for information to translate from a screen to audio or Braille," Marlowe says. "Additionally, there should be certain measures for privacy and encryption if working with secure data. Some internal programs limit what can be hooked up to a computer, such as no external drives, and it's crucial that an assistive technology device or program won’t be denied access when trying to run simultaneously.”
7. Create work boundaries. While BYOD can increase productivity, responsiveness and efficiency, there's a potential downside: all work and no play. Heather Whaling, founder and president of Geben Communication, stresses the importance of employees and employers knowing when to disconnect. “Having your work and personal technology so closely intertwined means it’s virtually impossible to escape," Whaling says. "I suggest employees and employers in BYOD offices learn to establish some boundaries. Know when to disconnect. Take a vacation. Go offline. Read a book. Just put down your phone for a couple hours to relax with friends and family.”
8. Include a certification program for new-to-market products. When the hot new phone comes out (and you know it will), employees will want to know if they can add it to the BYOD program. Marc Rohleder, director of business sales engineering at T-Mobile, suggests putting a certification process in place. “Companies may want to consider a certification process to evaluate new applications and devices employees are requesting to use for work purposes. Through an evaluation, it can be determined if new-to-market technology is approved for company-wide use. IT can then decipher what and how to onboard new apps and devices.”
9. Establish a process for handling employee resignations and terminations. Mike Golz, CIO at SAP, uses SAP Afaria, a mobile device management tool that takes about a minute to decommission a device. When an employee leaves the company, SAP can remotely wipe all corporate data on the employee’s device (e-mail, VPN access, etc.) without touching the personal data on the device. Though apps themselves are not removed from the device, the user will no longer be able to launch those apps.
BYOD programs can make life easier for businesses and employees. The first step to success is planning out the scenarios and answering the common questions everyone will have.
Does your company have a BYOD policy in place? What has worked for you? Share your advice in the comments.