In the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era, worker demands have to be balanced against business security requirementss. What strategies does your business need to keep everyone happy and productive? This is an extract from Lifehacker's new ebook Working Smarter: The Technology & Tactics You Need To Get Ahead In Business; download the full version here.
A History Of BYOD
There was time when people were scared of computers. They were expensive, hard to use and conjured images of Matthew Broderick launching global thermonuclear war. But by the end 1980s we were moving into the PC age and people started to see how a computer could be a useful business tool.
At first, senior management had access to green screens and other systems so that they could be seen to have the best of what a company could offer but by the 1990s everyone was clamouring to get their hands on a PC. Two tools drove that desire – word processing and spreadsheets.
This is an extract from Lifehacker's new ebook Working Smarter: The Technology & Tactics You Need To Get Ahead In Business. You can download the entire ebook for free here.
Once everyone was accustomed to using a PC they wanted to have one all the time and so laptops were born. Again, it was the executive suite that got them first but by the time everyone was panicking about Y2K notebooks were becoming common and began to permeate our open plan offices. At the same time, mobile phones had moved from flashy gimmick to essential and we could suddenly work and stay in touch wherever and whenever we – or our bosses – wanted.
Today, we are heading into the BYOD era. IT departments are losing control of their Standard Operating Environment. Clients demand the ability to use or choose their own gear. The business-standard notebook running a specific version of Windows and productivity apps with locked down settings is becoming a thing of the past. Today's users want to choose their own kit and use what they like – not what someone else chooses.
The Problems With BYOD
BYOD is not without its challenges. Corporate IT systems and applications aren't the same as home systems and often have specific dependencies, hardware requirements and security needs. No business can afford to have its security compromised but enforcing security policies on personal devices can be nigh on impossible.
The security issues can be worked around through the use of VPNs and remote access solutions that make the user's computer into a host that runs a secure remote terminal application. That way the corporate applications are run inside a sandboxed environment that is isolated from the rest of the computer.
Support is also an issue. What if an application that's installed to a user's personal computer stops working because the user installed a patch for World of Warcraft that breaks some critical file? Again, running corporate applications inside a protected remote application means that any malware that's made its way onto the user's computer will be isolated from the corporate network. However, businesses still need rules in place that put the onus on running current, maintained security software.
Businesses want to ensure that their data is safe so the networked, remote solution works well as users still store data on the corporate servers. If the user's computer is stolen there shouldn't be any confidential business data on it.
The downside for the business is that if everyone gets to choose their own computer there may be some cost impact. When you're buying hundreds of identical computers your reseller is likely to offer some great discounts. If you end up buy a wider spread of devices some of those volume discounts will disappear. Also, you might find that software licensing costs escalate as enterprise and site licenses may have conditions precluding personally-owned devices.
Make sure you do your homework before endorsing a BYOD program. Work through all the hardware, software, infrastructure and policy issues.
Want to read the rest of this chapter and more business productivity advice? You can download Lifehacker's new free ebook Working Smarter: The Technology & Tactics You Need To Get Ahead In Business here.
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