As IT devices and gadgets become more standardised and widely available; the consumption of these products has become commonplace, with workers taking their own equipment to work whether or not their organisation has a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy in place.
Research carried out by the IT industry analyst firm, Freeform Dynamics indicated that approximately a third of businesses encourage the use of personal devices at work. The report also showed that even in organisations where the use of personal devices is banned, one in five companies reports that more than twenty five per cent of their employees use their own devices for work-related purposes.
The employees found most likely to use personal equipment at work – whether or not there is a policy in place restricting the use of any personal devices – are typically IT professionals and senior business management. If it’s now almost impossible, or at least extremely problematic, to ban the use of consumer devices in business, is it now time for organisations to face the challenge head-on?
But what are the biggest concerns with personal devices being used for work purposes? Security? Storing or losing sensitive data? Compliance? The ability to support users?
Losing data or information ending up in the computer systems of competitors is seen as a risk that can be particularly expensive and embarrassing if not tackled robustly.
Apple iPads, iPhones, along with Android smartphones seem to top the list in terms of the personal IT equipment people want to use for work. However, the Freeform Dynamics research showed that in addition to these mobile devices, Windows PCs or laptops are widely used at home, along with a growing number of Apple Macs.
Implementing policies around which device types should be allowed to access company systems is essential. Agreement must be sought from users that some additional management tools and processes may be imposed on their machines. The security issues mentioned above require the company to have some means to remotely clean the device should it be lost, stolen or the user leave the business, the user must also be made aware of the potential consequences.
But does this actually raise the question of whether it is worthwhile to allow the use of personal equipment for business purposes in the first place?