Posted by Brandon Hill
Consumers adopt new technology much faster than businesses. For instance, many are in line at the Apple store the day the latest iOS-based device is available. Imagining a similar scenario for the IT department is almost laughable. Not only would the IT team have to buy hundreds to thousands of those devices (depending on the size of their enterprise), but they would then have to spend hours upon hours individually setting up each device to be secure, compliant and easily manageable. Then, there’s the actual expense of such an endeavor.
It’s no wonder that the majority of end-users feel they have better computing technology at home than they do in the workplace. And because they have become so accustomed to using newer, more advanced devices at home, they are requesting this same technology in the office. And who can blame them? These devices are often faster, easier to operate and they are what the user feels most comfortable with.
That said, as mentioned above, many IT departments do not have the budget or resources to supply end-users with the smart devices they have become accustomed to in their personal lives. Thus, IT faces the issue of pooling its often strained resources to provide end-users with these devices or in letting them engage in BYOD behavior.
BYOD is quickly taking off as the methodology of choice for a number of IT managers. And some employees have become so accustomed and attached to their own personal devices that many have made it clear that they will simply violate or ignore corporate IT policy if it states that such devices are not approved for use in the workplace or if they are issued a work device that is not of their choosing. In addition, by enabling end-users to bring their own devices into the workplace, IT saves money. Or so typical thinking would go…
That’s not always the case according to Hyoun Park of analyst firm Aberdeen Group. While the IT department does not have to provide the devices themselves (which can run up to $599 for a smartphone and even more for a tablet), the long-term costs add up quickly. For instance, “the majority of BYOD users are reimbursed through monthly expense reports,” says Park. “Aberdeen research shows that the average total cost associated with processing an expense report is $29.00.” With this figure added to the $70 per month per user average for BYOD deployments (for a total of $99.00), it is clear that this model is more costly (Aberdeen estimates an average of $85.00 per month per user for employer-issued devices).
Now that we’ve thrown the cost argument out the window, let’s examine security. Obviously, there are major security risks that come with letting end-users bring their own personal devices and accessing the corporate network in the workplace. If you are letting any and all employees (or anyone in your building) access the network with zero encryption, you can count the minutes until malware has crippled your network. Rather, there are a number of IT management tools and techniques you can employ to ensure that end-users are following proper security protocols before using their devices in the workplace. Even issuing employer-owned devices does not come without risk. What if that device is lost or stolen? Chances are that puts your network even more at risk than a personal phone being lost, as there is likely even more corporate data stored on the employer-issued device.
So what choice should you make – enable BYOD or issue corporate devices? There is no right answer as there are pros and cons to each approach and you’ll need to evaluate what makes the most sense for your workplace. What makes sense for one may not work for another. But with the right IT management tools in place, you can easily manage and control your computing environment with either scenario.