Feature Article

May 28, 2013

What Happens When BYOD Stops Being Voluntary?

Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a concept taking the enterprise by storm. Employees are increasingly using their own tablets, smartphones and other devices to do business. By simply providing employees with access to the necessary applications, companies are saving money and employees are eliminating the need to juggle multiple devices, switching from work to personal from one device to another. Employers typically reimburse workers some of the costs of operating the devices (paying part of monthly data usage fees, for example).

In fact, BYOD is becoming so pervasive that there is evidence that companies are beginning to count on it to save money. Research organization Gartner recently surveyed a broad swath of organizations and their chief information officers (CIOs) and found that 38 percent of enterprises expect to stop providing devices to employees by 2016, with this number rising to 50 percent by 2017. In addition, Gartner finds, many organizations will begin to balk at reimbursing employees’ part of their device operations fees.

Ultimately, analysts say, BYOD may wind up being great for employers, but not so great for employees. Internet Evolution’s Alan Reiter recently blogged that “with forced BYOD, employees will have to hope they receive a fair reimbursement for their business airtime.”

While the goal may be to save money, many companies may find nightmares on their hands when it comes to operability (company applications may be built on older operating systems and not work with newer employee equipment purchases), security (when a company’s confidential information winds up being lost on a ride in Disney World during a family vacation) and ownership when it comes to disputes between department employees and company property.

For employees, there’s even a chance that their private property could wind up being confiscated by their employer in legal disputes. By using a personal device for work, you may be giving your employer tacit permission to search the entire device, including your personal information. Even if you only check your work e-mail on your personal device on occasion, you are blurring the line between personal property and company property, and could find yourself having to turn your devices over to a team of lawyers.

So is BYOD worth it? The answer seems to be that while it might be convenient for employees, all the benefits will be reaped by employers.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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