Bring your own device or simply BYOD is a practice where employees in a corporation are allowed or encourage to bring their personal gadgets to the workplace, and are also allowed to access the information of the business enterprise through their private devices. Also referred to as IT consumerisation, the same practice has also been adopted in the educational institutes as well.
Though not posing to be so attractive, BYOD certainly has an impact on the business trends today, as research studies reveal that more than 70 of the corporate employees are using their own devices at their workplaces, with 95 of employees stating that they use at least one personal device for their business work, whether allowed by the company or not. The fact is that even if some business corporation introduced a ban on it, it was unable to stop employees from bringing their own devices at workplaces.
Some of the organizational behaviour researchers are of the view that allowing the employees bring his own device helps them ‘feel at home’ with their own devices, which means they are expected to give better results than working on a personal computer provided by the corporation. Workspot Inc., a service provider of enterprise software, is of the view that BYOD helps employees to be more productive at their workplaces. Numerous other companies suggest that it lets employees feel convenient if they work on their personal devices, and hence greatly enhances their morale. It also presents the employer as a ‘flexible employer’ who never puts tough restrictions on its employees. Other than that, more than 40of the prospective job holders think that an organization is having a more ‘positive attitude’ if it supports the BYOD policy.
While there may be many advantages of implementing a BYOD policy at the workplace, it carries some serious concerns too, one of which is increased data usage. Research studies reveal that the more than 40of the employees who were allowed to bring their personal gadgets at the workplace, were found accessing the company’s network for their personal purposes such as personal emails, socializing, surfing, and downloads, and at most instances, this is done through smartphones and tablets instead of personal laptop computers. This increased data usage, certainly, is a financial bearing on the part of the corporation.
Another serious concern associated with BYOD is the security of the company’s confidential data. IT Managers of several different business organizations state that employees use many smart apps for their personal use, which may prove to be a ‘sneak way’ for the hackers. The reason behind such a proposition is that such smart apps may include a spyware, which may be a channel to steal information from the employees’ personal gadgets. Moreover, when the employees connect their gadgets with public or unrecognised wireless networks, they again expose the company’s confidential information to the hackers.
As described earlier, BYOD policy has also become a part of the educational institutes, the latest example being the schools in the US, where the children are encouraged to bring their own gadgets at the school with the aim to provide students with a more ‘associated’ environment. Propagators of BYOD policy in the schools are of the view that such a policy allows the schools to save a large amount of resources, as the school no more needs to provide the children with a high-tech computer lab. Such funds can then be invested on other ventures of student welfare such as financial assistance to poor students, scholarships to the brilliant students, better faculty, lush green playgrounds, and highly stocked libraries. Another advantage of such a policy is that it allows the students to handle their devices in a better way.
While financial saving is a great advantage of a BYOD policy at the school, it carries several disadvantages too. Many researchers state that such practice has increased cyberbullying, increased cheating in exams, increased trend of viewing adult content, headaches, and distraction from studies.
The issue can be better comprehended if it is studied with respect to the environment it is implemented. In case of the business organizations, BYOD can be implemented within safe limits. An employee monitoring software may be installed on the smartphones of the employees, which will help to monitor the data usage by the employees. Moreover, the employees should be encouraged to only install trusted apps on their personal gadgets in order to avoid the risk of any malware of spyware.
In case of the educational institutes, safe limits should also be implemented. Firstly, only higher grade students should be allowed to bring their personal gadgets to the school. Secondly, parents and teachers should increase awareness among the students about cyberbullying and other related issues. Thirdly, the school authorities should encrypt the school’s internet, so that children are not able to view adult content online. Lastly, a parental control software such as a software to spy android OS, blackberry or iPhone may also be installed on the personal gadgets by the parents so that they are able to monitor the activities of their children online.