In a world where we are surrounded by modern technology and advanced devices, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is not a new phenomenon. Employees have adopted a more relaxed attitude to IT for years now, using their own personal laptops and mobile devices to carry out a range of workplace tasks.
There are numerous advantages of Bring Your Own Device. For employers, with a BYOD policy in place, there’s little need to invest in expensive equipment, minimising costs. Employees can also benefit, as they can work on a familiar device using a familiar operating system, eliminating the often frustrating period of getting to know a new device or system.
However, as well as the obvious BYOD productivity benefits, many are concerned about the security issues that implementing BYOD brings. Business owners are faced with a conundrum; to prioritise productivity or safeguard security. Now that BYOD is a tried and tested process, does the positive impact it can have on productivity outweigh the potential security implications? Is it really a worthwhile investment for field service engineers?
BYOD & Productivity
Many businesses have adopted BYOD policies under the belief that it will improve employee productivity. In fact, in the 2016 BYOD & Mobile Security Spotlight Report, increased employee productivity (55%) was the third main driver in the implementation of a BYOD policy, behind greater employee satisfaction (56%) and improved employee mobility (61%). Evidently, businesses strongly believe in the potential BYOD productivity benefits.
As I’ve already mentioned, allowing employees to use their own devices removes barriers to accessing information that complicated or unfamiliar systems bring. With the majority of workers now owning smartphones, BYOD allows them to stay connected remotely and conveniently. Replacing the cumbersome laptops of the past, these smart devices improve connectivity and data-sharing, allowing effective monitoring of task progression and the whereabouts of engineers.
But how do the statistics line up? According to a study by Dell involving 1,500 IT decision makers, over two thirds of businesses have witnessed a boost in employee productivity since implementing their BYOD strategy. They also reported that customer response times had improved. One survey also found that employees who adopted BYOD worked an extra 2 hours on average each day.
In Cisco IBSG’s financial analysis titled The Financial Impact of BYOD – A Model of BYOD’s Benefits To Global Companies, employees who adopt BYOD save 37 minutes per week on average. In the UK, this figure is significantly higher at 51 minutes. In terms of field service, where maximising efficiency is key, this time-saving could be crucial.
BYOD & Security
Of course, while many are enticed by the prospect of improved productivity, security concerns can hamper BYOD. By relying on employee devices, you eliminate consistency across workplace technology. For example, some employees may religiously install virus protection updates, while others may adopt a more laidback attitude.
In the same BYOD & Mobile Security Spotlight Report, 39% of respondents cited security concerns as the main inhibitor of their BYOD operations. Of these security concerns, 72% cited data loss or leakage as their main problem point, followed by unauthorised access to company data and systems (56%), unsafe apps or content (54%) and malware (52%).
It’s clear that these aren’t just concerns either; they’re very real threats. 39% of the organisations surveyed said BYOD and corporate devices had downloaded malware in the past, while 24% had connected to malicious Wi-Fi. What’s interesting is the large amount of respondents who said they didn’t know about these attacks, suggesting that the rise of BYOD is creating something of a blind spot for employers.
There seems to be a level of uncertainty for BYOD employees too. A study found that 87% of employees believed their employer was responsible for the security of the device. Clearly, greater clarity is needed to eradicate these potential security flaws.
Productivity vs Security: The Verdict
As the statistics have illustrated, the advantages of BYOD are numerous for field service businesses. However, security threats are very real — but should they prevent you from implementing a BYOD strategy at all? The short answer is no.
Rather than abandoning all hope of a BYOD environment, striking the balance involves implementing the right strategy for your business. Limiting the access BYOD users can have is one such option. There are four main options you can offer:
- Unlimited access to data and systems
- Access to non-sensitive data and systems
- Access with IT control over apps and storage
- Access without the ability to store data locally on personal devices
If your main concern is how employees can safely access business-sensitive data, implementing one of the above options could be a solution. Likewise, investing in watertight field service management software — available in mobile app form — that can be used across devices will eliminate the risk of users downloading malicious applications and potentially exposing your data.
Essentially, you can eliminate security issues by improving the flow of BYOD information in your business. Establish a strong BYOD policy that outlines how you expect devices and information to be used. Clearly distinguish which responsibilities are yours and which are your employees, so there can be no ‘blame-game’ confusion when it comes to vital security updates.
You don’t have to choose between keeping your data secure and BYOD productivity. When implemented correctly and with the right precautions, BYOD can offer multiple benefits for both employers and field service engineers alike.