The Problem With Bringing Your Own Device to Work

On our third blog about Bring your own device or BYOD, we’re focussing on the negatives of this new trend to your business and your workers, but also what are the things you should consider before moving on and adopting BYOD.

So this month we’ve been talking about all the great things a “bring your own device” or BYOD for short policy can bring to a business and also the workers who adopt it too. Just enter BYOD into the search box on the site and it’ll bring up all our blogs on BYOD. However to balance things out a little bit, today I wanted to also talk about some of the gotcha’s and bad things that BYOD can bring.

Technology exclusion

Technology and innovation are great, but it also brings “technology poverty” which can lead to exclusion in the workplace. Your business may well have a great BYOD policy, it probably has a gleaming application suite all written using the latest Android versions, but then… bump… your workers all have to have the latest Android 8.1 phones which today means the best part of £1000. We’ve also seen this issue when a business goes with IOS, demanding Apple hardware when most of the population are using Android kit.

What this can lead to is putting great strain on workers who now need to buy new kit in order to do their job.

Innovation slowdown

A few years ago, when the latest release of a smartphone came round, we all clamoured for the latest and greatest features and it was common to see everyone queuing up to get their hands on the latest devices.  However today, innovation has slowed down on smartphones and tablets to the point the average time to change is exceeding even 24 months. The reason is that we’re all happy with our existing phones because they’re still good enough.

However, this isn’t great for BYOD because it means that your applications have to run on older kit which will make your apps either complex and harder to maintain or not take advantage of the latest OS features at all.  Add to this, security is in general not quite up to speed on older kit too. Add to this your workforce will be using older kit, which in turn will have more issues and downtime.

Staff resentment

So thinking about the above two issues, the reality is usually that the onus will fall onto the worker to buy new kit or they don’t get the job! This puts added pressure on employees, who are probably already not earning enough and have very limited job security and rights too. The fact is that, in a perfect world, if you have happy staff then your business will probably do well. Will your staff be happy having to purchase new hardware simply to do their job?

Security issues

I know what I would do if I were a worker and faced with the above points. I’d buy the cheapest phones I could off eBay and then get going. After all, why should I commit hundreds of pounds to the latest technology when I might even not have work next month?

I can’t tell you how many Hermes, Amazon and Uber drivers I see using cheap Chinese phones that I know for a fact have huge security flaws in them and cannot guarantee that data is being kept safe. When I tell them this, they simply don’t care. Why should they?

BYOD doesn’t save money

I have spoken to a lot of customers who have removed their BYOD policies and gone back to buying kit themselves. The main reasons are that it just all got out of control and costs then spiralled too. Data plans were not optimised, loss of service due to issues, maintenance of multiple hardware and also simple repairs on the hardware were just too hard to work out. Add to this MDM and solutions designed to secure and work with BYOD solutions are not as cheap as you might think and to use effectively need a lot of training and continued management themselves putting a lot more pressure on IT staff who are already stretched and also demanding very high wages today.

Lastly licensing, whether OS, apps or hardware itself can be a nightmare in a BYOD scenario. I have even seen some workers using unlicensed or cracked versions of software that’s just pure illegal. Who’s responsible for that?

BYOD, if controlled tightly can work, however for many it’s just not ever going to work and you are putting your business at risk if this is the case.

Many people I have talked to have described BYOD as a short-term gain for long-term pain, which is a big corporate issue with many managers only interested in what they can save today. They know they will be long gone by tomorrow.

Lack of identity

You know there’s just something about those DPD, UPS or DHL drivers that I love. They come in a corporate van, use a corporate mobile device, wear the same uniforms and you just feel secure using them. A BYOD policy might lose all of that and your business may be missing out on a huge branding and relationship opportunity.

Sure I know this is only one side of the argument, but it’s still one side of worth considering as a business looking to move from an existing mobile model to BYOD.

Lack of responsibility

When a business buys the mobile devices, they control everything very tightly. The data is theirs, the hardware is theirs, the network being used is theirs and the security is easier to manage too. In a BYOD scenario, who’s responsible if a personal phone gets stolen that didn’t have the PIN set that day for some reason and has just exposed your whole customer database to the thief? You might be able to blame the worker, but I know who I’ll be blaming if it’s my data you just lost!

You know what, not all workers are “millennials” and I’ve also spoken to many workers who simply aren’t that bothered about technology and are happy to just use the equipment they are given. They’re often happier that way, use their own 4-year-old Nexus 5x to do a bit of personal stuff when they get a moment and are actually quite happy working this way.

Like I said BYOD is not for everyone, the moral of this blog is to just make you think very hard before you think it’s for you!

Posted by "Durable" Dave

My background is web/mobile software, mobile hardware, where I worked with some of the earliest PDA's on the market from HP and Microsoft and data capture where i've sold all of the main brands of rugged kit you'll find!

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