Is Your Company Ready For BYOD?

6 keys to successful BYOD in your organization

BYOD is a hot topic for organizations now. We’ve written about it before, but this post will provide an overview of action points for companies who want to adopt a BYOD policy.

Bring your own device (BYOD) is an example of how consumers can change corporate policy at even the largest organizations.  BYOD or even BYOT (Tech or Tools) has taken hold despite the concerns and resistance of IT executives.

The BYOD movement began in earnest when the iPhone and then Android smartphones hit the market, and exploded dramatically with the introduction of Apple’s iPad. No matter what the IT policy was at the time, employees simply ignored the policy and started using their mobile devices and tools to help them get their jobs done.

Of course there is still the need to protect company data. A progressive IT leader understands that BYOD is a reality and can provide this flexibility to their employees while locking down company assets.

Here are several areas to consider when rolling out BYOD, in no particular order.

Secure your networks and data

This should already be an ongoing priority and at least now the BYOD reality is on the table. Set up the appropriate connection requirements for accessing company data including PIN’s and other security technology. This is a fast-changing topic and a good IT leader is already aware of the newest threats and prevention plans and tools.

Decide on management tools and accessibility for security

Are BYOD devices going to be required to have locator apps active? How about the ability to lock down or even erase devices storage remotely? This is an area that can require some extra time to explore options, and even more time to document the requirements for current and future employees. It is also important to consider the implications when an employee leaves the company.  Make sure that there is clear communication about what will happen to the data on the device, if anything, when they depart. I have found this is one topic that IT, Leadership, HR and every department should be involved with. Try to cover every possible scenario so that there are no surprises down the road – like a former marketing employee still tied to your company LinkedIn account.

Identify the Apps that you want to deploy and give corporate data access to

Apps should be considered before the platform decision that follows next. There is a strong chance that if your sales team prefers a certain iPad app for their account route planning, that it might not even be available on Android, or vice versa. Identifying all apps that will be used by your employees is not important at this stage, just those that will need to connect into the company accounting, CRM or marketing collateral data that you maintain. Which Twitter tool or instant messaging app won’t impact your security? As your company becomes comfortable with the mobile and BYOD environment you should discover that the selection of which apps you choose for corporate activity will become highly dependent on if they are mobile-optimized. If a software tool or app is not mobile-friendly, your employees will use something else that is. That includes your website!

Select the mobile products and platforms that you are able/willing to support

This might require that you select one particular platform that you will support fully. Apple’s iOS devices only, or Android only would be a great place to start and then, if needed narrow down to specific models and device types. Even if the goal is to get to a completely open environment, selecting one platform at a time can ease the transition for everyone.

Train your employees

This is an area that is easily overlooked but one that can cause big headaches down the road. Give them the knowledge on how to use their devices and apps, and what the requirements are for accessing company data. Make sure to create either video and/or written training curriculum so that future employees can receive the same training as those currently employed.

Decide on BYOD requirements

How are you going to allow connections to company data? Will they be connecting only via Wi-Fi or also cellular?  I advise my clients to always select a mobile device that has cellular as an option. Most carriers now offer a pay as needed option for mobile access, so that when a Wi-Fi connection is not available, there is still the ability to function with cellular. There is nothing worse for a sales rep or executive in the field, getting ready to present the grand plan to an important prospect when it is discovered that Wi-Fi is not available. A click of an option on the screen of a cellular-equipped device and they are able to deliver the message un-impaired. It is worth the extra $100.00 or so at the time of purchase to have that security blanket.

The bottom line is that this is going to happen, if it has not happened already. Get these conversations and policies decided on now. Get them in writing and distribute to the entire organization. Ensure that it is a part of every new hire orientation.

Once you have jumped into the BYOD pool, consider creating a representative, ongoing group of employees from all areas to introduce new apps, devices and challenges that are encountered. BYOD came about because employees want to have a say in how and what they do their work. I have clients that have discovered helpful new apps that were found by a customer service rep or sales person and eventually rolled out across the organization.  No one individual can keep track of all the tools, apps and devices coming available.

What other BYOD suggestions do you have to create a positive outcome for everyone?

* This post by Miles Austin, is the first in a series of posts about BYOD. Subscribe to the blog to get the latest updates.

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