I’ve been told to spice up my headlines by my marketing peeps so I think that answers the call.  This blog is about BYOD and comes as a 2 part discussion designed to give businesses both sides of the argument.  This blog should be read together with why BYOD can work for your business (coming soon!).

BYOD or “Bring your own Device” for those not in the know is a fairly new scheme where businesses literally tell their staff to bring in their own smartphone and this will be also used for business or enterprise purposes.  BYOD comes in various levels from giving staff budgets to purchase equipment right down to literally using their own smartphones but in all cases this is an attempt to move the responsibility of the mobile device onto the staff and away from the business.  This can bting a lot of benefits to the business but it also brings a lot of risks.

There are a lot benefits to BYOD, but these are talked about in the companion blog right here.  But this article gives some real world impartial advice as to why BYOPD might be a nightmare for your business.

Why BYOD doesn’t work

Should you outsource the mobile hardware your employees and your business critical processes rely on, here’s why that might be the worst thing to do!

Responsibility lines are at best grey

Staff who are often transient or on low incomes have a pretty low loyalty to where they work, in fact I think that runs deeper in today’s corporate climate but the point here is, if the mobile device fails for some reason, who is now responsible?  This doesn’t just cover the hardware, if you have a worker who damages their phone mid week then how does that lost business or engagement with your clients go down?  What if the employee can’t afford to repair the device or has very low grade warranty based support.  All of these areas need to be carefully planned for and communicated out as they can easily become an issue.

Data loss

Probably the most talked about issue with the BYOD device scenario is data loss.  You basically have loads of critical business data and also customer data on these dveices.  How do you keep that safe?  MDM products will do a pretty decet job of handling this but you need to know how to set this up properly as it’s not as easy to get right as you might think.  You also need to have a good process in place to deal with lost, stolen, corrupt devices so that you can swiftly and remotely deal with issues.

All of this needs to be done without damaging or corrupting the users phone or intruding on the personal element of it.

But what about all the human elements of this too?  It could be days or weeks before someone knows their device has been stolen.  or, believe it or not, the employee might try to hack into their device too.  There seems to be a lot of disgruntled zero hour employees around these days!!  This means your apps, data structures and sync procedures all might need heavy re-writing which comes at great cost.

Employee tracking

Sure you need to track employees.  If they’re remote/mobile then you have a duty to make sure they’re OK but as a business you also have a right to know how your time, money and resources are being used.  However if the mobile hardware is not your’s any longer, do you have a right to track it.  Also when do you track?  I don’t think too many people would be happy about GPS and phone usage data being taken after 5pm and at weekends and you run the risk of big legal issues if you do.  Also how do you use and store this information?  Whilst you may be entitled to it if terms exist but losing that data could be a big personal hit to the employee.  Be very careful about this one as I have seen a couple of companies come unstuck because they didn’t have any of the right processes and terms in place to handle it.

Legal issues

A good analogy is cars being used for work here.  However a car is actually only really used for about 10-15% of its time, a mobile device is used constantly from dawn until bedtime and often it’s working outside of these times too.  Stop and think about it.  You are putting lots of your business data and processes onto a personal device…there are going to be potentially lots of new legal issues with doing that if not handled properly.

Who is responsible for lost data? lost work? what about customer data leakage?  What about inherent OS issues or weaknesses?  At the end of the day its probably the business who will have to take any issues like this on the chin, regardless of how you then handle the employee so make sure you understand the legal implications of effectively outsourcing your data.

Device restrictions

I have seen this lot when out with workers.  There are elements of a device that you need to switch off or manage if you want them to be secure.  Any kind of radio like 3/4G, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC etc.  But how do you manage these without disrupting the personal usage of the phone?  For example what if you want your phone to have an open bluetooth and NFC connection so you can tap and go to your cars stereo every time you drive?  BYOD and MDM might need to restrict that.

Fragmentation of technology

If the device is down to the employee then it is likely that a lot of them will be using an older phone, possibly a cheaper one bought off Ebay specifically for their job, whilst they keep their shiny new iphone 6S+ for their private life!  This brings multiple issues to the table.  Fragmentation of OS and technologies will mean your app developers and IT support could be overwhelmed with the issues that multiple Operating systems and versions of them will bring.  Instead of supporting one estate of device and OS, you’re now faced with potentially multiple versions of each which increases support and development costs significantly.  You must manage this effectively as I have seen many businesses with as little as 10 devices struggle massively with this element that was not thought through effectively before deployment.

Age of devices

Like above, devices that you have no control over how they were bought or are run to a degree will present security issues which will present downtime…simple!  Add to that if you have different ages of device, how will you ensure that the older versions of these are supported?  By using BYOD you will now have to support multiple versions of OS’s if you like it or now and this will mean you have to potentially target older versions, which presents security and also innovation issues to your teams.

What do you do if your competition is using the latest mobile technology to get a step ahead of you.  Can you ask your employees to simply upgrade their phones?  I don’t think so!

So there we have it, remember i’m not saying “don’t do BYOD!”  I’m just trying to say that I have seen a lot of customers come unstuck with it and the above is where I saw most of that happen.  before laying in to me, take a read of the companion article on this that takes the other side’s view, it’s coming soon!



About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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