The concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a growing trend in business and presents some major challenges for the small business owner. BYOD refers to the practice of allowing employees to use their own handheld devices (and in some cases, laptops and/or tablets computers) to access their work networks. There are a wide variety of issues to consider, some of which are positive and others can be quite negative.
The immediate benefits of this practice are two-fold. The business saves money by limiting – or possibly even eliminating – the purchase of new equipment, and the employees get to use devices on which they are already proficient, which reduces the learning curve and improves employee morale. It’s already quite popular and is being widely accepted as the norm.
But, it does present some areas of concern. Application compatibility can be a big one… Some devices may work well with Office Productivity Suites (like MS Office) and others may have issues with them, or at least certain versions. Other concerns are related to confidentiality and security of company data. BYODs can be an inherent risk to private company data.
If every employee is using their own device, there’s admittedly a greater risk of lost or stolen data. This concern is often cited as the main reason business owners do not adopt a BYOD program. However, small businesses that are aware of this potential problem are in a better position to deal with it. The implementation of policies that are clearly outlined and understood by the employees is the first step to mitigating this risk. Such policies may limit the types of devices accepted under the program while spelling out what the protocol is for devices that are lost and stolen. Most policies allow for wipes of business data on personal devices should the worst happen. Other companies simply make sure their most sensitive information is kept offline, away from the major security risks.
The best, first step is to have an Acceptable Use Policy in place. This will clearly define what an employee can, and can’t, do so everyone is playing from the same sheet of music. In the case of compliance issues (SOX, HIPAA, etc.) having these policies can be your best defense against large law suites and fines.
We can help with this. We have policy templates that will get you from start to finish, with very little effort on your part. All you have to do is ask and we’ll get you started down this path. Give us a call at 501.542.4241.