BYOD: Does it work?

by Karn Kaul

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) as a concept is simple. The term got coined with Intel recognising an increasing tendency of its employees to bring their devices to work and connect them to the corporate network, and in a couple of years certain other software providers like VMware and Citrix followed suit.

India is reportedly one of the top 10 countries to accept BYOD in tech companies. With 78% of organisations running BYOD programmes (according to a Forrester Consulting survey), the trend is catching on. The survey revealed that employee productivity was the main driver for such projects, with over 2/3rds of the respondents citing it as the key factor.

But does it really work? Executive Traveller finds out from people who have adopted this concept.

The Benefits

Individuals benefit from this policy, since they can choose the devices they want to use, and not have to maintain two separate technological “warehouses”. According to IT Professional, Atri Roy, “Using your own device is likely to boost your morale and improve comfort, hence increasing potential productivity. It is just like bringing your own lunch to work or being able to sleep on your bed when you are on a vacation. It is comfortable.”

Employers also get to partially shift hardware costs to users and not have to worry about mass upgrades of in-house technology. Employees also tend to take better care of their own devices as opposed to issued hardware. On a similar vein, Yashika Singh, entrepreneur and software engineer says, “If BYOD does seep into all companies in the country; cost for the management will decrease drastically. Typically, companies all over the world that provide with devices, have to pay for licensing, administration and management of the device besides its original cost. With the adoption of BYOD, costs reduce, but since it is still a new trend, it is obviously expensive. And the question of how once can control or manage such devices arise.”

The Drawbacks

It’s not all a pretty picture, though, with nearly half the enterprises that have allowed BYOD having reported data breaches. Some security professionals prefer to rephrase BYOD as Bring Your Own Disaster. But according to Vineeth Narasimhan, Director of Product Engineering, MaaS360 by Fiberlink, there is a solution for data breaches. “Since this a new trend and since it is taking this country by storm, we have all learnt one thing already. If you don’t have adequate controls in place, you will suffer losses and to contain the issues, you need to realize that emails are not the only things that need to be secure. You have corporate docs, apps, CRM System and SAP to think of,” he says. But the solutions, at least on paper, are simple. “To achieve a secure email system, one can easily enforce a policy that does not allow anyone to copy and then paste or take screenshots of the official emails. Similarly, for attachments, we have come up with an in-built attachment viewer that allows you to view and edit the document without actually needing to download it,” he concludes.

So should an organisation think about implementing such a policy? According to Garlati, allowing BYOD gives companies a competitive advantage as it enhances innovation and creativity in the workplace. On the other hand, not allowing it is a “head in the sand” approach that is not a good security strategy, said Rik Ferguson, director of security research at Trend Micro, who believes that any unreasonable restrictions will always be circumvented.

 

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