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Bring the “Chaperone” to Your BYOD Party

Posted by Michael Kienzle

Aug 27, 2015


Guest Post by Michael Kienzle

Is your company’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy leaving your IT team feeling a bit uneasy?  If so, perhaps it’s time for a CYOD or Choose Your Own Device policy.  So, what is the difference? Simply put, CYOD can offer more security and more control.  You could also think of CYOD as Chaperone Your Own Devices and take control of the unsupervised party that is BYOD.

Many companies that have established BYOD policies are experiencing IT security and management issues.  BYOD security concerns often stem from a device being compromised in a way that could allow access to company data, or that could jeopardize data (via malware, for example). Whereas, IT management issues can range from simply struggling to keep track of multiple operating systems to protecting the integrity of your network from the dozens (or hundreds) of business applications employees use for work.  According to an IDG survey of 1,600 senior IT security and technology purchase decision-makers, more than half reported experiencing serious violations of personal mobile device use.  These issues could be resolved or minimized with a CYOD policy.

Moving away from the BYOD mentality may make employees nervous, initially. After all, the now familiar BYOD movement has freed employees from the confines of their desktop applications and untethered them from their desk phones.  It seems that organizations everywhere, large and small, have seen some level of BYOD filter into their businesses. Even the White House now has its own BYOD policy.

BYOD grew quickly, in part, because of the emphasis on the benefits of remote working (whether for a few hours or permanently). As a company, having employees so accessible to customers and management, regardless of location, was ideal. With mobile technology always at our fingertips, it made that degree of accessibility easy and affordable. BYOD allowed companies to save on costs when comparing the expense of allowing employee-provided personal devices versus being confronted with the actual cost of having to buy dozens, even hundreds, of new mobile devices for those same employees.

Flash forward a few short years and companies are now re-evaluating the pros and cons of BYOD.  The freedom, efficiency and cost savings of a BYOD policy could eventually become counterproductive and negatively impact a company.  Security breaches can become a reality with something as simple as a misplaced phone or tablet; or when an employee shares a BYOD device with someone outside of work.  This can quickly and inadvertently allow access to employee contacts and calendars, and client databases.  Another risk: a back channel into your company may become exploited when an employee device connects to an unsecured third-party Wi-Fi connection, resulting in access to sensitive company documents, information and programs.

Is there a better answer for your company than BYOD - while still keeping employee freedom and accessibility? This is where CYOD enters the picture.  Similar to a BYOD policy, a CYOD policy needs to be thought out and organized as to which best practices need to be instituted for your organization.

There are a couple of ways a company can institute a CYOD policy. First, employees can choose from a list of devices the organization supports - and the employees can still buy their own preferred device from the list. Another option is for the employees to choose from a list of devices the organization supports - but the company buys the device (obviously this option is more costly for the company). Either way, the IT department knows what these devices are and which applications are compatible for the business. Having a managed set of devices and applications can help to resolve many of the security and management issues that arise. The benefits of IT mobility management capabilities range from security administration with remote lock and wipe capabilities, to the ability to update applications, as well as using service portals for ongoing device management.

The negative impacts of BYOD on a company that include security issues and time and resources spent troubleshooting IT problems can be reduced with CYOD. Deploying a CYOD policy would keep the freedom of users working in remote locations while allowing the company's IT professionals to maintain order over the influx of various mobile devices and applications.  IT departments, kept in the loop of company devices, save time troubleshooting problems. According to Aberdeen Group, 73 percent of organizations with a CYOD policy are able to control access to their company’s network. This is not only for security, it’s also great for workflow, collaboration and productivity. A win-win situation for both the IT department and the end-user.

In the long run, CYOD maintains the basic premise of what BYOD began: using mobile devices to help keep employees at remote locations productive. If you think it’s time to bring the "chaperone" into your BYOD party, there is one thing to remember, the age-old adage, that there is always a trade-off between security and liberty.

Michael Kienzle is a marketing specialist at Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications. He has provided creative marketing solutions for small and medium businesses for over 20 years. As part of the Switchvox team, he empowers companies with a greater knowledge of unified communications and cloud services.

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