AH Tech Talk: Understanding BYOD For Work

"BYOD" is a buzzword of companies that are trying to move with the times; it stands for "Bring Your Own Device" and is a way to engage with employees who wish to conduct their business using their own provided device, typically a smartphone but may include other electronic devices such as a tablet, laptop computer or Chromebook. Some businesses have a BYOD policy, which sets out what an employee may do with his or her device; some policies determine the type of device that may be used, reasonable hours of work and the limit to how it may be used. For example, picking up work email may be considered acceptable but connecting to a work network infrastructure may not be. There are also control and security implications for a business opening up their infrastructure for employees using BYOD technology and this ultimately comes down to trust: a business must trust its employees not to abuse the technology and potentially sensitive data. Likewise, many mobile device management application suits may be used to wipe an entire device rather than just the corporate information and so the employee must trust the business in return.

A recent report collated by BI Intelligence using information from telecommunications and Internet convergence company, tyntec, reveals some interesting information regarding the trend towards BYOD in business. There are a number of issues surrounding employees using their own devices for business, such as unreimbursed expenses. In other words, employees are not compensated for using their own devices, data plans or even WiFi equipment for work-related use. It can be difficult to quantify the amount of data or talk time to separate business and personal use and where a contract allows unlimited minutes, it is perhaps better to divide up the airtime costs rather than spend hours pouring over the bill. The BI Intelligence also shows that most employees spend a significant amount of time completing work-related tasks on their own mobile devices outside of working hours; in the United States of America, 37% of employees spend more than 10 non-office hours completing work tasks on their mobile. This figure is 38% in Spain with the British around half the number at 19%.

For business application use, the report states that employees using their devices for businesses without BYOD policies are unlikely to be using business apps for this: this appears to reflect a lack of work-related applications created by companies with BYOD devices. As for the number of businesses with BYOD policies in place: although half of US consumers use their personal 'phones for work in at least some capacity, around one third work for a business with no BYOD policy in place. Three quarters of US employees would like to have two separate 'phones for work and personal use, or two different numbers (and one device). It appears that employers do not understand their workforce needs and how to approach the bring your own device work environment. Unfortunately, the ever changing technological landscape makes it difficult for a business to keep track of changes without a dedicated information technology department or individual, and it is these businesses with a less than formal BYOD policy that are potentially leaving themselves open to problems.

There are a number of business related applications and services that providers support on the Android platform; Google's Apps for Work is one example, plus we have seen Google and BlackBerry forming a partnership to bring BES12 to Android in the future. BYOD is seen by some employers as a half way house between providing their staff with a mobile device and ignoring the potential benefits of allowing the workforce to become more mobile.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.