BYOD: Five Critical Considerations

If your company is considering the implementation of a BYOD policy, it’s important to understand the trade-offs encountered in cost savings versus policy creation and technical support needs.

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The BYOD (bring your own device) strategy is increasingly being deployed or at least investigated by companies of all kinds, including manufacturers. Like any strategy or policy, BYOD is not a one-size-fits-all model. While it could prove to be a great fit for one company, it could be ruinous to morale at another (see a list of recent Automation World articles that relate examples of and thoughts around BYOD use in manufacturing at the bottom of this article).

Given the fact that more businesses are seriously looking into BYOD, it makes sense for any company to fully understand the implications of implementing a BYOD policy before making any significant decisions one way or the other.

To find out more about the critical BYOD considerations any company should address, I spoke with Mitch Black of Mobi Wireless Management, a managed services vendor focused on supporting corporate wireless strategies. Black noted the five most important things to consider when determining if BYOD is a good fit for your company.

#1: Security and Legal Challenges. “Some of the most prominent security challenges that business face when implementing BYOD are data control when switching devices or service plans, visibility into the status of the device and access to sensitive data,” says Black. “Legally, the question we propose to companies is, ‘Are you extending the mobile user’s work day?’ If the answer is yes, there is the possibility for issues with overtime pay.”

Because all devices accessing the company network should be password protected, some companies create “containers” for each phone, which hold all network data on it. Those containers are password protected. Black adds that, with or without the containers, wiping capabilities of all devices accessing your network are a must to ensure security of proprietary data.

# 2: Cost of Supporting BYOD. According to Aberdeen Research, a company with 1,000 BYOD devices will spend an average of $170,000 more each year than one with a corporate-liable policy. These extra costs are incurred through BYOD-related activities such as inventory management, MDM licenses and installation, and supplying a technical help desk.

#3: Mobile Device Management (MDM) Service Evaluation. “An important capability when choosing an MDM service is role-based profile creation. This relates to creating specific accessibility for each user based on his/her needs,” Black explains. “When and what they can access is all part of profile creation. Hourly workers may not need the same level of access as the vice president, so role-based creation is important. And don’t overlook the fact that tracking location, usage and installed applications is another capability that requires evaluation for MDM. Carriers offer different options here, too.”

#4: Company-Specific Mobile Device Policy. Black says that any company needs such a policy to protect it from liability in cases, for example, where an employee uses a device while driving and is pulled over for it or gets into an accident. “You also need a policy that meets the needs of each group a user belongs to – hourly vs. executive-level employees,” he adds. In developing these policies, three things need to be considered: scenario-based expectations to determine who can and cannot operate BYOD devices; usage-based expectations such as expectations to respond outside of business hours; and device and operating system restrictions.

#5: Lifecycle Support. The inevitable growth of BYOD means that companies need to provide for increased technical and financial support for BYOD programs. “WiFi infrastructure will grow along with the management platform,” says Black. “The evolution of your BYOD policy—with new devices and options—will require audits of employees’ participation. Companies need to be prepared for growth of the program once it’s implemented and stay on top of what’s happening in the industry. This will allow them to keep up with the evolving BYOD programs available.”

As Black makes clear, the decision to implement BYOD is not an easy one. Ultimately, the decision for many companies considering BYOD adoption will come down to resources—either internally or externally available—to support the program and it associated policies and requirements.

Read other Automation World articles relating to BYOD use in manufacturing:
The BYOD Question
BYOD: A Really Hot Topic
First-Hand Experience with BYOD in Manufacturing

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