This article was first published on CPA Practice Advisor.
Employees are bringing the mobile devices they’ve purchased
with their own money into the workplace and asking to connect them to company
data. This growing trend is referred to
as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or the consumerization of IT and is one that
deserves your attention. It is rapidly
replacing the days of the IT department selecting and requiring the type of
device the organization issues and supports.
Many firms are now allowing employees to purchase the smartphone or
tablet of their choice and access firm data.
While BYOD does create some unique challenges for firms and their IT departments,
it also opens up some good benefits for both the employees and the
The benefits of letting employees choose their own mobile devices
are numerous. Here are just a few:·
- Employees get a choice – It’s
amazing how much putting the choice in the hands of the employee can boost
morale. For many people, mobile devices
have become a fashion accessory and speak to their personality. As with other accessories, it’s important to
them that they have a choice.
- Employees already know how to use it
– A lot of the burden is actually taken off of IT for support, maintenance and
troubleshooting because employees are using the devices in their personal lives
as well. They’re much more willing to
spend their own time figuring out how it works for personal tasks than work
related endeavors. Often times, this
tinkering leads to better trained end users on the business side as well.
- The firm avoids owning hardware and ongoing
mobile contracts – The employees own the devices and usually set up the
service in their own names. This
eliminates the need for IT to manage an inventory of mobile devices as
employees come and go. More importantly,
the firm doesn’t have to manage the ongoing contracts.
- The equipment can go with the employee if
they leave and the data can be wiped – When employees do leave, BYOD
makes the departure much cleaner. You
simply wipe the company data from the device and the employee keeps the phone
or tablet. They can restore or keep all
their personal data and move on to their next destination. This is a much smoother transition for all
- Employees are more productive – When
employees can use their own devices, they are more mobile and see an increase
in efficiency and productivity.
According to an iPass survey of 1100 mobile workers, "employees who use
mobile devices for both work and personal issues put in 240 more hours per year
than those who do not.”
While there are many benefits to BYOD, it doesn’t come
without its challenges as well. The good
news is that IT departments are figuring out ways to overcome these challenges
rather than using them as excuses to resist the BYOD trend.
- Security is easier to manage on company
owned devices – Obviously, it’s easier to manage security issues when
the devices and environment is controlled by IT. The devices can be locked down and IT’s
primary concern is not about balancing the user’s ability to use the device for
both personal and business purposes.
- Life-Work Balance is challenged – Employees
have an even harder time turning off work than they did before a single device
put their personal and work affairs at their fingertips 24/7. The fact that it’s easy to take care of minor
work items quickly from your mobile device at any time can often infringe on
personal time. This is evident by the
iPass survey results I mentioned previously.
- Policies aren’t keeping up with the trend
– Boomer Consulting, Inc. recently conducted a mobile survey of 430
professionals in CPA firms and found that BYOD is already occurring but most
firms are lagging behind in having a policy that specifically addresses
it. For more information on the survey
results, please click here.
So what can you do to ensure you are prepared for BYOD? Start by doing your homework. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of
BYOD and read as much as you can on the topic.
Once you’ve educated yourself, make sure that you have a written mobile
device policy that covers BYOD. The
policy should cover things such as the systems that can be accessed,
whether/when a device can be remote wiped and how much employees will be
reimbursed for the device and data plan.
Finally, make sure you communicate and train employees on the
policy. After all, it’s worthless if no
one knows about it.