The new orthodoxy: Bring your own device

Even the most cynical of us are susceptible to advertising and foolhardy followers of certain brands. We’d like to think we’re immune to this, that we’re individualistic, capricious and that we choose our own paths. No sir, not the case.

Take for example baked beans. Now we’re not one to product place, but Heinz Beanz is a really rather tasty variety of beans. Some of us swear by it, even if we’ve never tasted the alternatives. I guess it’s just human nature; we have an experience and that becomes the defacto expectation.

In much the same way, brand identity has permeated itself in the technology we use in a personal capacity. Traditionalists might swear by Dell (and Microsoft) while creative types option for the coolness of Apple (and Mac OS X) instead. Generalisations, yes, but the fidelity towards a name, product or company is true. We like what we like.

In an age typified by daily change, the biggest shake up in human activity has been the division between work and leisure time. The boundary has been blurred, bringing with it a shaky balance of both positives and negatives. A downside is working longer hours and eroding any sense of pure relaxation.  A positive is that of flexible working that allows us to spend more time at home, looking after children or carrying our errands that otherwise would have been impossible.

Lately, the concept of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) has begun to take on a life of its own as companies scrap previously longstanding ways of operating.  BYOD is, self explanatory: employees bring their own devices into the workplace and/or operate from them remotely. It is characterised by movement, and typically the devices are portable (laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones).

It’s a win-win for both employer and employee. Employee’s get to work from devices which they both like and are most efficient on – brand loyalty at its best. While the employer saves money on purchasing the technology, troubleshooting, repairs and having to update machinery and software on a fairly regular basis.

As great as it is – and we are supportive of this flexible style of working – there are inherent problems attached with BYOD. Principally, as those involved in our industry will attest to, the security issues are plenty. With a plethora of devices native to any given organisation, the ability to provide appropriate data protection and security in a uniformed way becomes a challenge.

Every device and operating system is not only distinct in itself, but they also come with their own divergent vulnerabilities and malware. This leads to a complex array of networks which are difficult to monitor and keep protected.

We’re just beginning to realise the problem with many businesses only now catching up to the problems that can arise – i.e. protecting the company’s network and data when employees need access from their privately owned devices.

Not to mention the issues that employees may have around designating their device memory to work, sacrificing monthly data allowance and  battery life.  Device tracking is also an issue because the the device can be location tracked by the company at any time.

One expert, Graeme Batsman, director of Datadefender.co.uk, has put forward an idea of an automated approach (this allows for port and device control, while being capable of remotely locking or deleting data). It’s a good idea, and a suitable start, but as BYOD becomes more commonplace, more solutions will need to arise. After all, the more we get used to enjoying working on our preferred technological machinery, the better our work productivity will become – businesses don’t want to lose out on that.

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