Bring your own device – or BYOD – is becoming increasingly popular in the modern workplace. Many companies are now actively encouraging BYOD and, despite the cost implications (which will not be discussed here), there are more pressing concerns regarding the multitude of devices which have the potential to be used as business tools.
Some of the most important of these to consider is security and data compatibility across multiple platforms. Consider a business which, at its core, is based on a Microsoft/Windows framework. Also, imagine that this company requires its employees to travel extensively, possibly needing to give presentations, as an example.
Now throw in to the mix a range of devices, each running different operating systems, each running different programs, and each having different security vulnerabilities. You can see that you can quickly run in to huge problems.
From a data management point of view, the biggest issue is going to be how to get everyone on the same page in terms of compatibility, backup and security.
With the example above, a compatibility issue may arise with the presentations. If – for example – the presentation was created by someone in Marketing using software on a Windows PC, and then converted in to another file format for someone in Sales to present on a tablet, it’s entirely possible that not only may the presentation not work on the tablet, but if it needs to be changed at the last minute, that may not be possible as the presentation was created on a completely different program and/or operating system.
Even if both parties are using the same software, are the versions the same? If not, are the files still compatible? Furthermore, is the software on the employee’s device appropriate for use in a corporate situation?
Leading on from this, there is also the issue of security, not only when thinking about how to transfer the data from one device to another, but also how to maintain business-wide security policies across multiple platforms.
If a business deals with vast quantities of sensitive client data, then security (particularly on personal devices) has to be of paramount importance. Email, file transfer, voice calls and messaging applications all have to be vetted and analysed for their potential security risks.
You then have to find a viable solution which you can introduce globally, that can cope with the vast array of phones, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs that your employees use.
In tandem with this, backing up your business-critical data is another worry for companies that use BYOD. The question is not only what data should we back up? But also, what software do we use to do this? How often? And who is ultimately responsible for backing up this data?
The last of these questions is probably the most important and most ambiguous. Is the company responsible to providing backup software, schedules and reminders? Or are the employees expected to follow a regime dictated by the company, and ultimately it is they that are responsible for any critical/confidential data stored on their devices?
BYOD is here to stay, and finding ways of keeping your data safe, yet readily accessible, is becoming more and more of a challenge for IT departments everywhere. The sheer multitude of devices, platforms and security issues, mean that companies have to think long and hard about the implications of BYOD to their business-critical and confidential data. Finding ways of unifying tens, hundreds or thousands of employees with a company-wide business system is difficult enough, and now with BYOD it’s going to become even more of a challenge.