Things have been quiet around the IT department lately. The days of “fix my PC” and “my laptop won’t start” are officially over. Thanks to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, employees are more inclined to fix their own IT problems and adapt their phones and laptops to their personal preferences. It’s great news for business owners, that save out on costs for device purchase and maintenance contracts. It’s great news for employees too, who can work from wherever they want on their device of choice. However, for IT managers, BYOD is a constant struggle. They have to manage around 30 apps per user, on devices with software versions they’ve never heard of. Not to mention the danger that comes with unknown devices gaining access to the company network. Should we go back to the corporate standard of Take It Or Leave It? Or is there a way we can have it all? We’ll tell you here.
BYOD policies are slowly taking over the workplace. According to Forrester Research, employees choose their own smartphones 70% of the time, meaning it will soon be the standard. And with good reason: the list of BYOD advantages is long. First of all, it drastically lowers cost of ownership as employees pay for their own laptops, phones and tablets, and their maintenance contracts with device suppliers too. Second, the number of helpdesk calls decreases in companies that have a BYOD policy, as people are more inclined to fix their own IT problems when they own the device. In the case of company owned PCs, employees tend to shrug their shoulders, hand over their “broken” device to the IT department and wait for them to fix it. Third, BYOD policies allow employees to use their preferred devices rather than forcing them to settle for the corporate standard. This personalisation makes them more satisfied but also more productive. And maybe most important of all: BYOD policies allow employees to take their devices with them so they can work from home or a café, while having all company data within reach.
In short, BYOD policies result in decreased costs of ownership, fewer helpdesk calls, higher employee satisfaction and more flexibility. Everybody wins! Well, everyone except the IT manager. Because here comes his list of BYOD pains:
Privately owned devices are way harder to control by the IT department, as they get to deal with different device brands, operating systems and applications. IT has to manage and secure all of these different laptops, tablets and smartphones to protect the company network and to avoid users gain access to sensitive data. Second, BYOD policies make employees more flexible, but security often remains static. As opposed to PCs, employees can easily pick up their laptops and phones and walk from one department to another, meaning they might switch computer network along the way. If they then plug in an internet cable at another department, or connect to the Wi-Fi, they gain access to a network they’re not allowed in. It gets even harder when employees take their devices outside and connect to the company network through VPN or unsafe Wi-Fi, which might bring malware to the company network from a distance. And although it may seem like BYOD policies save companies out on costs, the increased complexity that comes with privately owned devices and multiple versions of software could also increase IT expenses.
Back to Take It Or Leave It?
So far, we’ve listed employee advantages and IT manager disadvantages. Whose side to choose? We all know IT managers will is law, especially now that digitalisation has made businesses more vulnerable to cybercrime and thus dependant on skilled hands of IT experts. So, should we all go back to a Take It Or Leave It policy and lock the company doors between 9 and 5? Oh no no. BYOD policies come with far too many perks to go back to where we were. Fortunately, there’s a way to keep employees happy and the company safe at the same time. The solution lies in a security solution that guards the company network in a way that every individual user and device is authenticated before they even step foot in the company network. This can be done with a network access control solution (often shortened as NAC). NAC solutions not only authenticate users, but also authorise them so they can only enter those company networks that are important to them. This automatically solves the problem of employees wandering the company hallway with their phones and laptops, walking in and out networks they have no reason to be.
Want to know more about Network Access Control and how it can help you manage privately owned devices? Download our free white paper below.