BYOD: A Really Hot Topic

June 12, 2013
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) as a corporate policy is stirring up a great deal of discussion on both sides of the issue.

A couple of weeks ago I posted an article focusing on the results of research around the growing acceptance of a BYOD policy at many companies. At the time I posted the article I thought it was a marginal, yet important topic for Automation World readers to be aware of given the increasing use of mobile devices to access automation systems in manufacturing. Let’s just say I misjudged how pressing the topic was for many of our readers.

It turns out the BYOD issue has been generating heated discussion for some time and I just happened to wade in at an opportune time. After receiving a number of emails about the post and noticing that that the original article had been shared via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn more than 50 times, I decided to create a discussion around the topic on our LinkedIn group.

Here’s a sampling of some of the comments posted in the discussion on the Automation World LinkedIn group:

“I think where it [BYOD] potentially works is in virtual desktop environments. But even in that scenario I see the driver being risk mitigation, security and compliance advantages, not expense reduction via hardware cost.” — Forrest Edwards, senior controls engineer/material handling network owner at Target

“… I am an independent contractor so I have made this choice to consolidate my personal and business devices into one. I have had clients try and give me devices and have always refused, not wanting two laptops, two phones and the like. The stickiest point is security but this is solvable. For companies, not having to manage, track, pay taxes on all these items probably more than makes up for the higher data fees and the like.” — Will Wagoner, P.E., consultant at Infilco Degremont Inc.

“BYOD is a very bad idea. Corporate security is totally compromised. Data security is also compromised. What would happen if a person holding essential data in their personal device meets with a fatal accident? This is against all norms of corporate governance.” — Madhusudan Sikri, owner & chief mentor, Sikri Packaging Corporation

Beyond the discussion on the LinkedIn group, I also received information on the BYOD topic from Druva, an integrated platform provider for endpoint backup, secure file sharing, data loss prevention and real-time analytics. For Druva, BYOD is clearly an important topic and the company has compiled some useful data on the BYOD issue, including infographics on the rise and risk of BYOD as well as a principal driver of BYOD— the growth of corporate data.

Druva is generally in favor of the BYOD trend. “Multiple studies indicate that BYOD is a reality,” says Sarah Payok, Druva spokesperson. “Gartner projects that by 2017 over half of employers will require employees to bring their own devices and that by 2018, 70 percent of employees will conduct their work on smart devices. Furthermore, data suggests that BYOD is what employees want, and organizations can benefit by embracing it. To do this, they need to adapt and put measures in place that will protect their corporate data, whether it resides on a central file server or an employee's tablet.”

As for the contention by Nucleus Research, cited in my original post, that BYOD is not cost effective, Payok counters by saying that the Nucleus Research report “doesn’t take into account the hard-to-quantify benefits that BYOD brings. A 2012 iPass study reports that employees in a BYOD environment tend to work an extra 5 to 20 hours each week, with 57 percent reporting that they work at least an extra 10 hours each week.”

Trends show that employees want BYOD and they are using personal devices in the workplace regardless of whether the activity is IT-endorsed, says Payok. “With 84 percent of employees reporting that they are already using their own smart phone for work use, according to KRAA Security, organizations need to focus on protecting corporate data on any endpoint device, regardless of whether it is a business-owned laptop or a personal tablet,” she says. “Taking a data-centric approach to BYOD and mobility, instead of focusing only on the devices, will allow organizations to ensure that their data is protected regardless of if a device is damaged or lost.”

Though I understand that younger workers will likely maintain their own devices separate from work and possibly even want to use those devices at work, as for me, I tend to agree with Automation World LinkedIn group member Christine Frank, global industrial business development manager at Transition Networks, who asks, “If the company is too cheap to purchase tools for work purposes, what does that say about how they value you?”

What do you think? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on the LinkedIn group discussion at bit.ly/automationworld.

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