A significant amount of progressive small businesses are tossing away employee IT equipment for BYOD systems. What is BYOD? BYOD is an acronym for Bring Your Own Device, a new type of business network where employees literally bring their own devices to work. Sounds like a fantastic idea, doesn’t it? Let’s cover some benefits!
The Advantages of BYOD for Small Businesses
The advantages of such a system are clear. Primarily, cost! Small businesses no longer have to buy equipment for their employees. Another less obvious benefit is BYOD systems allow employees more freedom to work remotely. Perhaps the largest less obvious benefit though is employees get to use a device and operating system that they are already familiar with. This further reduces costs for the business in terms of employee training, and increases employee productivity.
The Disadvantages of BYOD for Small Businesses
There are pitfalls to this system that small businesses would be wise to plan for. First and foremost, remote device management tools may slow down employee devices – a situation that employees will not be happy with. Security may be an issue on employee devices as well, so small businesses must be diligent in ensuring employees are using adequate security software as well as taking proper steps to physically secure their devices. IT supports staff must also be competent in support the multiple operating systems that may exist in a BYOD type environment.
Legal Best Practices for BYOD Environments
The Data Protection Act – The Australian Data Protection Act covers 13 principles. These principles are:
- an individual having the option of transacting anonymously or using a pseudonym where practicable
- the collection of solicited personal information and receipt of unsolicited personal information including giving notice about collection
- how personal information can be used and disclosed (including overseas)
- maintaining the quality of personal information
- keeping personal information secure
- right for individuals to access and correct their personal information
Commercial Best Practices for BYOD Environments
You should always consider how your BYOD environment will impact your commercial agreements and client relationships before implementing it in the workplace. If you are unsure about this, ask for outside help.
Device Limitations in SMB BYOD Environments
There is a risk that personal devices may attempt to back up sensitive business data to their cloud storage. This could lead to data being accidentally leaked or shared. Steps should be taken to prevent this, and the small business should be aware of how their data is being used at all times.
Building Effective SMB BYOD Environment Policies
A small businesses’ BYOD policy should implement the following rules:
- Only authorized devices should be allowed to access any business data
- Authorized users should only have access to the data they are supposed to see
The policy should clearly specify which users have access to which data, and how each user can make sure that the policy is being followed.
Train Staff on BYOD Appropriately
Along with passing out the new BYOD policies, train staff appropriately on BYOD protocols and procedures. Test them as well at regular intervals to ensure they are retaining what they have learned in training.
Manage Small Business BYOD Devices Remotely
Use remote management software on all employee BYOD devices to ensure that appropriate software and security protocols are being used. Remote management software can also assist in providing technical support when employees are working remotely. Be aware though that this software can negatively impact employee device performance.
Prep IT Staff to Support More BYOD Devices
Make sure IT staffs are well trained and equipped to support multiple types of BYOD devices. Here are some things to consider:
- Prepare the budget to provide the necessary equipment and training for multiple brands of devices and types of operating systems
- Make sure regular updates and maintenance are scheduled for multiple types of operating systems
- Security protocols should be well developed to support multiple types of operating systems and devices
Utilize Alternative Ownership for BYOD Systems
A business has less control over their data when they have less control over the device. So it is best to consider an alternative ownership model for your BYOD system. This model involves listing pre-approved devices for employees to choose from that can be controlled by the company. This way, the business knows employees are always using devices that can be controlled by the company.
Virtual Desktops Make BYOD Even Easier
Another option a BYOD business may want to consider is using virtual desktops for business data and tasks. Virtual desktops create a completely secure, controllable remote desktop environment on employees’ devices. These desktops can be used both for work and for storage of data, creating a secure and safe environment from any device.