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Supporting Employees with Bring-Your-Own-Device

May 08, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

IT has always gotten a bad reputation in the enterprise. To most employees, the IT department is something to be avoided because it is the department of “no.” No to using the software that the employee wants to use, no to getting a new device such as a latest-model smartphone or a better laptop, no to using Dropbox (News - Alert) for file transfer, and no to other things that employees think they need.

This is unfair, because IT is just doing its job in containing costs and keeping corporate data safe through best practices. IT often has more work than it has time to handle, too.

Regardless of whether this reputation is fair or not, however, it exists. And this reputation leads employees to skirt around IT whenever possible.

Working around IT has never been easier, thanks to the rise of smartphones and Web services. What has been called the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is sweeping across businesses, and studies have shown that more than half of all employees now use their personal mobile devices for work sometimes.

Companies have a choice when it comes to BYOD: Embrace the trend or fight it. But since it is nearly impossible to enforce an anti-BYOD policy in practice, the smart option is to work with the trend and support employees in their use of personal technology. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Embracing BYOD means a few things. First, develop a data security policy that works with BYOD. While the tight security practices of yore might not be possible, companies can reasonably secure data with technology such as mobile device management (MDM). This lets personal devices use corporate data in a walled garden environment.

Second, it means making it easy for employees to easily find apps that will help them get the job done. If employees are going to use their own devices, they at least can have a starting point for which apps to choose. This can take the form of a corporate app store or even just a list of recommended apps for particular needs.

Finally and perhaps most important, embracing BYOD means enabling workers to have access to the corporate data they need. Instead of having to email themselves company files or only being able to access part of the business information they need, employees should be enabled to access all the data they need in appropriate ways.

Making the data accessible means a number of things, including: having VPN access set up for mobile devices; having company intranets easily accessible; developing mobile company communication and collaboration through unified communications; and moving all business data to the cloud through solutions such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) and fax-over-IP (FoIP). Enabling workers to access the data they need from their personal devices keeps workers productive and reduces the chance of sketchy security practices.

BYOD is not going away, and business needs to recognize this trend and adjust accordingly.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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