According to the International Data Corporation, there were 1.4 billion mobile workers in 2015 and 3/4 of the US workforce will be mobile by 2020. As the number of employees using mobile devices continues to rise, the need for an efficient and effective mobile strategy becomes ever more vital.
“A careful review of the goals and values of an organization, coupled with an awareness of the capabilities and limitations of each strategy, is necessary for an informed decision.”
– Jake M., Mobile Analyst
There are three prevailing strategies businesses can employ:
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
In a BYOD system, employees use their own device, choose their own carrier and are responsible for paying their own bill. In turn, the company reimburses the employee through a stipend. On the surface, BYOD seems like the simplest and most straightforward option but it can lead to several hidden costs and can leave an organization open to security risks.
- Higher Employee Satisfaction: Employees using a device they have chosen to purchase and already know and like tend to be happier than those using department issued devices.
- Increased Productivity: Employees are already familiar with the device and understand how to use it. They are also more likely to take full advantage of device features.
- Little to No Hardware Cost: Employee is responsible for purchasing the device and accessories.
- Security Concerns: Security is the largest drawback of a BYOD system. Employees accessing company data with these devices significantly increase the potential for malware attack and open the company to potential leaks of valuable data. A strong mobile usage policy and enforcement protocol is necessary to ensure threats are kept to a minimum.
- Compatibility Issues: Conflicting platforms, incompatible hardware, inability to support required protocols, and inability to run required software are common issues IT departments face in BYOD environments.
- Stretched Resources: With a BYOD system comes the need for a thorough mobile device usage policy along with the means to monitor and enforce it. Resources need to be put into place to deal with compatibility issues, end user support, data retrieval and to ensure on-site security protocols are in place.
- Hidden Costs: According to CIO Magazine, companies with 1,000 mobile devices spend, on average, an extra $170,000 per year when utilizing a BYOD system. They are missing out on volume discounts, paying service premiums, and having to invest heavily in help desk support and security protocols.
When a Corporate Liable system is in place, the organization is responsible the procurement, expense and general ownership of employee devices, including policy and security management.
- Security Control: The installation and maintenance of security protocols is much easier to facilitate in a corporate liable system. Devices can be configured before being deployed and software and anti-virus programs can be updated on a regular basis.
- Operational Efficiency: Devices can be configured and deployed in bulk, repair and replacement programs can be streamlined, and organizations can ensure devices are compatible with internal systems. In addition, tech departments can eliminate the learning curve associated with offering multiple devices and streamline security and maintenance tasks.
- Cost Savings: Organizations can take advantage of large volume discounts and negotiate discounted rates and service plans with the carrier.
- Control Over Corporate Data: Since the company owns the device, they have the right to control and manage any data and information shared through it. In the event that an employee leaves the organization, the company retains ownership of the phone and phone number. In addition, there is less exposure to potential legal and HR conflicts over information on the device.
- Learning Curve: In a corporate liable system, there is potential for an employee to receive an unfamiliar device, resulting in a dip in productivity and the need for user education.
- Innovation: It’s essential for companies to keep pace with the latest updates, programs, and most recent technology. Corporate liable programs reduce the likelihood of providing employees with the most up to date devices possible, as employees are more likely to keep up on technology if they own their own device.
- Lower Employee Satisfaction: Employees like to feel a sense of ownership and control. Handing over a mandated device, rather than allowing choice, can result in employee dissatisfaction.
Hybrids (COPE, CYOD)
COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) are corporate liable systems that seek to find a middle ground in terms of cost, management and productivity. In both of these programs, employees are able to select their device from a pre-approved selection of devices. The company is responsible for purchasing the device and paying the carrier, but employees are able to personalize the device, use it for both personal and work purposes, and enjoy a better work-life balance.
- Security Control: The installation and maintenance of security protocols is much easier to facilitate. Devices can be configured before being deployed and software and anti-virus programs can be updated on a regular basis. In addition, there are no rogue devices connecting to the network and potentially exposing the organization to malware and other security threats.
- Operational Efficiency: Devices can be configured and deployed in bulk, and repair and replacement programs can be streamlined. Additionally, since employees are choosing a phone they are comfortable with and using it as their personal device, they are more likely to be familiar with it and less likely to require assistance from IT departments. With a hybrid program, companies also have the opportunity to ensure compatibility across their systems.
- Cost Savings: As in a corporate liable system, organizations have the power to negotiate better service rates, device discounts, and keep tighter control over costs. Selecting which devices to support and ensuring their compatibility with internal systems reduces the risk of the hidden costs often seen in BYOD strategies.
- Control Over Corporate Data: Organizations retain the right to wipe data from a device, disconnect service, keep the phone number when an employee leaves, and enjoy less exposure to legal and HR issues.
- Higher Employee Satisfaction: When employees have the opportunity to select a device, customize it and utilize it for both personal and professional use, they feel a sense of ownership and control, resulting in a higher level of job satisfaction. By choosing a device they are comfortable with, employee productivity increases as well.
- Corporate Responsibility: The organization is ultimately responsible for the device, it’s maintenance, security and replacement. In addition, management must be diligent in enforcing policies surrounding personal use of corporate devices.
- User Privacy: The organization retains the rights to wipe the device, disconnect service, and access device data. Employees utilizing a device for both personal and professional use may be wary of this lack of privacy.
So which system is best? In today’s ever evolving world of security threats, we recommend a corporate liable or hybrid approach. It’s important to remember that humans are a known cyber-security weak point. Placing the responsibility in your users’ hands can prove to be costly and dangerous.