Bring your own device (BYOD) is a concept most organizations have already embraced. From the employee perspective, permission to bring personal smartphones and tablets to work and connect to corporate networks is no longer considered a perk, it is expected.
Yet many financial firms are still holding back on BYOD because decision makers are caught up in endless concerns about employee privacy and securing corporate data. These are legitimate worries, but these are not the only barriers to adoption, and unfortunately some of the most common concerns vendors are hearing are based on little more than speculation.
So how can CIOs be sure what is a myth and what is factual when researching best mobile practices and BYOD? Here are five of the most common misconceptions frequently encountered by Andrew Bisesi, chief of staff and head of consulting at the BYOD software and service provider Vox Mobile.
1) BYOD for everyone? BYOD is not always created equal
There are many flavors of BYOD that can be applied within an organization, and it is often the case that many groups are assigned various security layers and controls over the device.
These range from the traditional sense where the company provides the device and service contract and locks down functionality, to a hybrid model where the firms takes ownership of service but employees pay for the equipment and can use a blend of work and personal apps, or a model where employee pays for everything but maybe receives reimbursement or a stipend of some kind.
What's most impacful part of this decisions is the culture of the organization, he says. One of the most important steps in the BYOD process is defining user personas within the organization, and deciding what is most important for those users.
The truth is, certain BYOD policies are not for everyone in the organization, Especially in the case of executives and C-level employees who carry highly sensitive information. "You want a level of control over those individuals," Bisesi says. "If an executive is traveling internationally and their phone is broken or needs something replaced, if you no longer interface with their carrier service you have no way to act on their behalf."
2) Financial savings? Not likely
Many believe BYOD has the opportunity to save a bunch of money, but that's seldom the case. At best, they are net neutral programs.
A lot of time when BYOD is launched in the enterprise, they opened the door for more people to connect to the network. "Some employees who were unable to connect to a corporate BlackBerry can now connect personal devices, so all the other costs related to mobility increase a bit."
Those supplemental costs include infrastructure (can the wifi bandwidth support the flood of new devices?) and overall applications to support and secure new devices.
The biggest financial gain, depending on how you design the program, is on the equipment costs. Today, handsets can be north of $200, and some employees are expecting subsidies. As for replacing devices, some employees are not eligible for a replacement, "so you're talking retail prices in excess of $550 to replace that. Across the organization that can be pretty impactful from a cost standpoint."
3) Think device support is not your problem? Think again
Perhaps one of the most unexpected secondary costs of BYOD is customer support. Although firms can design a policy that gets them out of support from a carrier and service element they still need to support information.
"Support desks are receiving calls not even related to corporate connectivity," says Bisesi. Thanks to added complexity, users call and inquire on how to use devices in different ways, like how to use the touch keyboard versus the physical, and what applications are best for productivity, and are they using the right things related to their job function. "As people shift to more complicated and feature rich devices, we've seen the number of support calls go up." Not only that, the length of support calls is typically 25 to 30 minutes long, when in the past they averaged 12 to 15 minutes.
Many companies have taken to outsourcing these support calls, freeing up their internal teams for more strategic projects such as looking into ways to adapt new applications and wearables.
4) Loss of security? Not really
"Many believe BYOD means you loose a sense of security, or control of the environment. This is not the case." Bisesi says as long as firms formalize their approach to BYOD and have policies and technology in place, you can have an appropriately secure environment.
Defining BYOD means defining what security means to the organization, what you are ultimately trying to protect, and what needs to be secure. "It helps you understand certain people might not be eligible because their information is just too sensitive," he adds. "While there may be a misnomer that you can't maintain a secure environment, as long as you understand what security is important to you, you can attach that to the user personas important to your organization."
5) No productivity gains to BYOD? That depends
Organizations often feel there is no possibility to realize productivity gains, but that depends on the program in place. "When you choose who you enable with BYOD you open this up to people who were never before eligible to hook up their device," he says, "What BYOD is able to do is get that person up and running while mobile, so even if you let employees access email while standing in line at the grocery store, you're going to realize some gains."
Providing access to tools beyond email, calendars and contacts is changing the way employees do work today. For example, employees using paper documents out in the field are going digital, creating efficiencies and improving time to revenue.Becca Lipman is Senior Editor for Wall Street & Technology. She writes in-depth news articles with a focus on big data and compliance in the capital markets. She regularly meets with information technology leaders and innovators and writes about cloud computing, datacenters, ... View Full Bio