Since the emergence of smartphones and tablets the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend has become somewhat inevitable among companies. A recent survey by MarketsandMarkets found that North American BYOD adoption rates were at 36% at the beginning of this year, and will project to almost 50% by the start of 2018. Like so many other business trends, India is following closely in the US’s footsteps.
Recognising productivity benefits of mobility, and higher employee satisfaction rates, a number of Indian businesses have now adopted a BYOD to work policy, liberating the confinements of an office cubicle.
A study by Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and Cisco show that 66% of Indian CIOs encourage workers to bring their own devices to work, while 44% give the flexibility to choose and use a particular set or personal devices.
Companies leading the trend tend to be startups and small businesses, as it reduces hardware costs significantly. However, BYOD is proving that it not only optimises on costs, but actually improves employee efficiency, productivity and streamlining communication. According to a recent survey on ‘Impact of BYOD policies on productivity’ by Wisdomjobs.com, BYOD helps employees feel more comfortable with their devices, improving satisfaction rates, and therefore a higher work effort. The survey was conducted across the country in cities including Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru, with results pointing to an increase in flexibility in one’s jobs under BYOD policies. BYOD further allows for an easier transition between working at home or at the office. With more Indian businesses opening offices around the country, BYOD policies also seek flexible work options and the ability to work remotely.
A move towards BYOD to work has also brought up many security and user privacy issues. Employers risk network breaches, client privacy, financial damage, and protection of proprietary data, when implementing a BYOD to work system. With different devices across networks and locations accessing corporate data, IT departments are struggling to find ways to manage devices and protect private company details.
PantryPerks CEO Rishi Padhi wanted to use technology to challenge the retail market by making organic products more available and affordable, and provided his company of 7 employees in California with their own devices. ‘I’d want a clear distinction between a company laptop and my own laptop.’ Padhi said. ‘On the one hand there’s company property of value and on the other hand there’s also personal content on your own laptop…the minute your company is more than just co-founders and you have employees, you really want to give them their own laptops. Even with remote workers, do you really want a worker risking sensitive information on a laptop that’s their own?’
Security is not the only reason employees are hesitant to introduce BYOD into their companies. A FirstPost article highlights that a report from the global IT association ISACA, suggests that the use of personal mobile devices for work activities is a distraction for employees, blurring boundaries between work and play. Employees have had to limit and even prohibit access to social media websites from work-supplied devices.
“Between lost productivity, the dangers of unsecured networks, and the potential to lose or misplace the small items, mobile devices pose many risks that must be managed to obtain their substantial benefits” said Niraj Kapasi, IT auditor and chair of ISACA’s India Task Force to First Post.
Several Indian companies have been taking steps to embrace these security threats to BYOD, by ensuring that systems are in place to protect and secure company data. In 2015, Huawei recognised BYOD as a mandatory supplementary office means, and therefore reinforced its cloud and BYOD strategies. Their BYOD security solution provides total protection for mobile offices in five dimensions (mobile terminal security, network transmission security, application security, sensitive data security and security management). Their associated ICT infrastructure “helps enterprises attain an optimal tradeoff between high efficiency of BYOD and information security.”
The last couple of years has also seen Panasonic launch an ultra-secure Eluga Mark smartphone in India, equipped with enhanced privacy features and BYOD support. Ricoh India has also established an Integrated Cloud Environment (ICE) for Printing and Document Management for small and medium sized businesses. The technology is one way for cloud users to expand abilities and help enterprises strengthen and have faith in their BYOD strategies.
In spite of the pitfalls, enterprise mobility is poised for big growth in the coming years. BYOD, when handled correctly, proves to be beneficial for both employees and management. To embrace BYOD culture, India needs to look towards continuing to introduce security measures and standard practices, to ensure data is protected and employees are given flexibility.