Digital Themes

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a term used to describe the practice of allowing employees to connect to corporate networks and information systems with personal digital devices. Devices aren’t officially provisioned by the IT department. Personal devices may be used for official business or for personal use (e.g. connecting to corporate WiFi). Such personal devices can include smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, and smart watches. These personal devices may connect to corporate email accounts, customer databases, customer account management dashboards, or other company information systems.

BYOD has grown in popularity as more organizations move to allow flexible working arrangements that include working from home, working during travel, or working during the commute to the office. Flexible working arrangements that allow BYOD can result in productivity gains for employees. Employees have the freedom to choose the devices they use for work-related tasks. Device familiarity can also enable employees to work more efficiently, without the need for additional training. Employees have the opportunity to design their workflow on their own devices. 

Organizations that allow BYOD may also offer technical support for employees connecting to corporate data resources. Employee selected devices will differ across the workforce. Supporting a multitude of devices and operating systems can be a challenge for IT departments. Individual employees tend to view BYOD as it relates to personal privacy and productivity. Organizations contend with data privacy and device security concerns.

BYOD presents many security risks since personal devices aren’t company owned or controlled. Personal device security becomes the responsibility of the employee. Not all employees will possess the same level of security awareness. To manage some of this risk, organizations may choose to develop and enforce a mobile device management policy that restricts access to certain systems from personal devices. Organizations that have not implemented a formal BYOD policy may consider personal device usage a form of unsanctioned technology use, commonly referred to as shadow IT. While BYOD can be challenging, it also offers multiple business benefits.

What are the business benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

  • Cost savings - Organizations allowing BYOD experience considerable cost savings in terms of device acquisition and maintenance. Employees purchase devices and maintain them as well associated services such as mobile phone service or hotspot service.

  • Increased employee productivity - Employees use familiar devices for work-related tasks, lessening the need for extensive training on potentially unfamiliar company devices. Employees can focus on completing work done, not the functions of the equipment they use.

  • Better flexibility for employees to choose equipment they use - Employees choose when to upgrade as well as the specific devices they will use. Upgrades happen on an employee’s schedule, rather than a potentially inconvenient time dictated by an IT department.

  • Improve employee job satisfaction - Employees have agency to choose devices they enjoy using, resulting in higher productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Faster response in emergency situations - BYOD allows employees to continue working and communicating during emergency situations when company devices either aren’t available or there aren’t enough devices to distribute to the entire workforce.

  • Mobile device management (MDM) can be used to mitigate potential security risks - Mobile devices are a popular target for malware. MDM can be deployed to employee owned devices to help limit the risk of security and privacy issues associated with personal devices. 
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