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Are Your Employees Scared of BYOD?


TMCnews Featured Article

January 29, 2014

Are Your Employees Scared of BYOD?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The world has gone mobile – that much is clear. We can’t complete a transaction, stay connected or even make a run to the store without our mobile device. It’s become a crutch, but also a powerful method by which we find and share information. Some believe it’s limiting our ability to communicate, while others see it as an opportunity to change the world.

For professionals who have to stay mobile to be successful, the right approach to mobile device management may come into question. For a number of organizations, bring your own device (BYOD) is an attractive model, as it provides employees with a choice regarding the device they carry and use every day, eliminating the juggle of trying to maintain a work phone and a personal phone. But do employees really want such freedom?

It’s not a stretch to think an employee may not want an employer to maintain control over a personal device. All the benefits we see for the enterprise don’t necessarily translate well for the employee base. For instance, do you really want your supervisor to be able to access the pictures you took of your kids at the park? Do you want the IT director blocking you from sharing the family Christmas card through a file share service?

A recent post by the Wall Street Journal certainly didn’t help. The post warned employees that if they work for a company with a BYOD policy, they could lose all personal data without warning should they leave the company. While BYOD policies usually outline this in the fine print, few take the time to read and absorb the details. When applied correctly, however, BYOD policies should never keep the employee device captive, but instead enable flexibility and agility in a dynamic work environment.

Plus, new innovations in mobile device management have expanded companies’ options when it comes to wiping an employee’s device once they leave. Basically, the device doesn’t have to be totally erased when personal and corporate data are kept separate. As we move away from the standard Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) in the Microsoft (News - Alert) environment, where a complete wipe was the only option, companies like MobileIron are extending MDM capabilities to enable partial wipes using different device protocols.

Still, even with this capability, everything digital is discoverable. Employees need to understand that if they sign up for BYOD, their personal information is still accessible. Employees and employers need to be very clear on what each party is allowed to do and capable of doing. Each need to fully understand the needs and capabilities of the mobile device management solution so there are no surprises.

If corporate and personal data are kept separate, removing corporate files is actually much easier. If an employee separation occurs, or the employee selects a different device, IT can leverage a mobile device management solution, like that provided by MobileIron, to remove only the specific containers holding corporate assets and data. Thus, pictures of employees’ children can stay in-tact.

The key to BYOD success is communication. IT needs to clearly outline the capabilities they have in place, what employees are able to do, what happens when a device changes or an employee leaves the company and the benefits provided by this policy. One thing is clear: EAS will initiate a complete wipe. If the company can avoid this approach, everyone is much happier. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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