The model most small and large businesses use to handle tech support was developed back when companies generally had better, newer technology assets than their employees’ personal technology. Today’s reality is one where many consumers more quickly adopt the latest technology than their employers, carrying greater computing power in their pockets than their employers once housed in old-school server rooms.
BYOD – BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE
According to a recent survey by IT risk and compliance services specialist Coalfire, 84 percent of surveyed workers use their mobile phones for both work and personal purposes, clear evidence of a “BYOD” – bring your own device – trend in the workplace.
With all the nay-saying about BYOD – concerns regarding control and security – there’s potential upside for business owners and entrepreneurs: Employees can operate when and where they need to without having to handle multiple devices. They can respond to customers more quickly and work when inspiration strikes. BYOD can also potentially lower companies’ IT hardware and software licensing costs, transferring IT hardware expenses from the employer to the employee while contributing to improved device refresh rates.
BUT WITH THOSE BENEFITS COME CHALLENGES, INCLUDING THE SECURITY CONCERNS…
Use of personal devices can also increase productivity since employees generally do not require training for the familiar hardware and software they already use. But with those benefits come challenges, including the security concerns mentioned above, and the need to handle support for multiple device types, operating systems and platforms. These challenges are especially daunting for micro- and small businesses, where dedicated IT resources are often a luxury.
The study also revealed the scale of the challenge: Of the 84 percent of surveyed workers using their mobile phones for work and personal purposes, nearly half don’t have passwords on those phones. And more than half said their businesses don’t have the ability to remotely wipe company data from their phones.
This can compromise enterprise competitiveness and operations – or regulatory compliance – if a device is lost or stolen, or an employee leaves the company with sensitive data such as lead lists, customer contacts, pricing, budget or contract information on the device. That’s just a small sample of the risks involved in BYOD. Other risks include data ownership questions, software licensure ambiguities and potential legal actions.
But the BYOD trend is here to stay, so it’s important for companies of all sizes to develop a comprehensive BYOD strategy – which should influence over-arching IT and operational strategies. This is the perfect time to create a new tech support paradigm, while individual and small business relationships with technology are undergoing a fundamental shift.
The change is spurred by something more profound than the rapid adoption of new technology, although that’s part of it. Today, people operate within immersive technology environments; rather than using individual devices for specific tasks, they use devices as portals to access cloud-based productivity, entertainment and communication capabilities and information.
Without integrated support and seamless access to data across multiple devices, the technology experience quickly becomes non-productive and negative. And when you’re running a business, productivity is of the utmost importance.
To benefit from the BYOD trend, companies need to ensure employees can securely access business applications and data anywhere, anytime. This requires appropriate, business-class support and security solutions that enable the maximum benefits expected from a remotely connected workforce.
Small businesses that want to realize the advantages of the BYOD trend and protect themselves from the risks to their assets should consider outsourcing tech support to a partner who has the knowledge to manage their business applications and IT infrastructure, plus the cross-platform expertise and comprehensive solutions to deliver support anytime, anywhere for the employee.
They should choose a partner who builds the support infrastructure around both the business and the employee. By doing so, they can ensure that employees have the support they need to use their technology to advance business objectives. Small businesses can improve both productivity and employee satisfaction by viewing the new support needs created by BYOD as more than just a passing trend.