Organisations around Australia are dealing with a number of changing tech trends that are forcing them to rethink their back-end IT systems. In particular, the rise of the mobile-centric workforce is leading many to implement bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs so their employees can use the gadgets of their choice at work.
However, there's more to BYOD programs than simply allowing employees to start using their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for work purposes. Instead, businesses interested in making the most of these initiatives need to consider a number of different variables, from their own IT networking capabilities to security solutions for the chosen devices.
How popular are BYOD programs?
The popularity of these initiatives is rapidly gaining traction among businesses in a range of industries. The lower costs associated with letting employees supply their own equipment combined with the added flexibility is proving valuable to organisations that implement these programs.
Tech Pro research discovered that BYOD programs are on the minds of the majority of the business leaders the firm surveyed. According to its findings, 60 per cent of respondents have already implemented these initiatives, with a further 14 per cent aiming to have one in place within the coming year.
Interestingly, these statistics are not uniform across all businesses, with Tech Pro Research discovering that, so far, BYOD programs are becoming more popular in smaller enterprises than their larger counterparts.
Tech Pro Research found that, in most cases, decision-makers are hesitant to give BYOD programs a try because of IT security concerns, which can be easily overcome by selecting the right managed solutions provider.
What do organisations need to consider?
The idea that security is seen as the biggest hurdle for BYOD programs to overcome was confirmed by research from IBM. The company found that nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of businesses were concerned about the security issues that arise when people use their own devices for work purposes.
IBM states that creating a secure network within your office is the first step to creating a safe environment for BYOD programs. However, the fact that these devices are often also used for personal as well as professional means creates another problem for IT security providers to solve.
The main issue is that BYOD policies need to include more than just digital solutions, as there is a chance employees could lose their devices and partake in risky behaviours. If they contain sensitive information, such data may be compromised if they fall into the wrong hands.
Why are BYOD programs so appealing?
Once organisations have the IT security solutions in place to create safe environments for employees and their personal devices, they can begin to reap the benefits of BYOD programs.
Plenty of research has been done on the topic, with one example from Cisco detailing how the advantages for those that embrace BYOD programs go beyond the bottom line.
While the above research shows that many organisations throughout Australia and the rest of the world have chosen to implement BYOD programs, it doesn't reflect their feelings towards them. Cisco spoke with 4,900 IT decision makers from across the globe, finding that more than two-thirds (69 per cent) see the initiatives as a positive feature for their organisations overall.
Cisco also discovered that the financial benefits to adopting this approach are mainly due to the fact that organisations no longer have to purchase devices that many employees own themselves already.
For those organisations that act strategically, Cisco stated BYOD investment can result in an annual return of up to US$1300 for each employee who provides his or her own equipment.
What other benefits are there?
However, as noted above, the non-financial benefits to BYOD are just as significant, if not more so, than their monetary equivalents. One of the most notable gains seen by organisations that adopt these programs is in employee productivity.
Cisco believes letting employees use devices they're familiar with can reduce downtime, allowing companies to regain up to $350 in lost productivity per employee over the course of a year.
The firm also found that BYOD initiatives can encourage innovation, as they allow employees to spend more time coming up with ideas rather than getting to grips with hardware they have been forced to use.
On top of this, BYOD programs create a more mobile workforce, giving employees the opportunity to work remotely or outside work hours as they can access the information they need at any time.
Things to keep in mind
In summary, there are a great number of benefits inherent in a well executed BYOD program, but also a number of challenges. Here's an overview of the key points:
To discover a solution that gets your organisation ready to capitalise on the BYOD boom, contact the team at NetCraft.