Guest Column | September 27, 2013

4 Ways For Your Small Business To Manage BYOD Effectively

By Brian Sutter, Director of Marketing, Wasp Barcode Technologies

An ongoing debate exists about whether BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a good option for businesses or not. One side recognizes the value it can have for small businesses, because it reduces the amount of money spent on purchasing and training for employees. However, there are those who argue that security issues and the continuous stress of offering tech support for employees using their personal devices make BYOD a bad choice for SMBs.

According to ComputerWorld, 6 out of 10 companies have approved BYOD for their workplaces. Furthermore, it seems BYOD has already happened — employees bring their own phones, tablets and computers to work, regardless of a set BYOD policy. As employees are using personal devices to access the corporate network and log into work email, it’s no longer relevant which side you stand on. The BYOD trend is becoming more prevalent. Here are four ways small business owners can manage BYOD effectively.

1. Create a formal BYOD policy

According to Windstream, nearly 40 percent of SMBs don’t have a formal BYOD policy. Creating a document that clearly defines policies before implementing a BYOD environment will protect your business in the long term. There are several BYOD policy examples available to help guide businesses to explain plainly what devices will and won’t be supported, what will be reimbursed and what won’t, and what the security and acceptable use policy will include. This is also a good time to determine what the exit strategy will be when employees leave the company. The more structure a small business can put around a BYOD environment, the more smoothly the program is likely to run.

NCH Health Systems in Naples, FL has embraced BYOD as part of their solution to creating a completely electronic healthcare experience. They quickly learned the importance of having the correct policies in place for their program. The guidelines for their BYOD program outline the instructions around data access, device-use and employee behavior. By creating parameters around their BYOD, the hospital is able to introduce a program that adds real value.

2. Research and adopt best practices

The beginning stages of implementing a BYOD environment should include researching best practices. One of the first “best practices” to initiate is password protection for employee devices. According to a Moka5 survey, 42 percent of companies already use BYOD. Although more companies are implementing BYOD, security is still one of the biggest concerns when considering a BYOD program; a password is just one way to protect your employee’s devices, company records, and a company’s networks. 

Another best practice to consider is monitoring data usage from the start of the program. Tracking this is an integral part of the BYOD program, so you can determine how much needs to be reimbursed. It also helps to determine if changes need to be in the strategy, if too much data is being used.  

3. Take the time to educate employees

If a small business decides to draft and implement a BYOD policy, it’s imperative that employees are educated on the details of the program. During training, walk through the implementation of the program, introduce the terms and encourage employees to ask questions. This is also a great time to discuss what the support options are for them in this process. Will they have someone on call that can answer their questions? Or, do they need to depend on the Internet and blogs for their technology needs? Review the BYOD policy on a regular basis with employees to ensure compliancy. A staff that is uneducated about BYOD policy is more likely to practice risky behaviors, because they don’t know proper use.

4. Implement a mobile device management solution

Forrester recently predicted the mobile device management market should be worth $6.6 billion by 2015. This growth is, in part due to businesses needing assistance managing their BYOD environment. However, according to an article in eWeek, “only 37 percent of SMBs are managing, or plan to manage, these devices using a mobile device management (MDM) solution.” A mobile device management solution helps small businesses manage assets to prevent lost items and set up proper security systems, like password recovery, device lock, and encrypting and hosting corporate data separate from personal data on an employee’s mobile device.

The number of small businesses owners implementing a BYOD environment into their companies continues to rise. Unfortunately, many are jumping in without a plan in place, which can be incredibly risky. Creating a formal BYOD policy, researching and adopting best practices, educating employees, and implementing a mobile device management solution will help small businesses owners manage their BYOD environment effectively and safely.  

Brian Sutter is the director of marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. Sutter joined Wasp as the marketing manager in 2006, with a focus on web presence, product promotions, and brand awareness.