Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the World of E-Business

As the owner and operator of an e-Business, staying on top of the latest trends and business models is of the upmost importance if you want to be seen as both competitive in your niche as well as desirable by employees and future staff members. The BYOD or “bring your own device” philosophy is one of these trends that is quickly sweeping through corporations and enterprises across the globe.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the World of E-Business

An e-Business by nature has no tangible “storefront”. In a more customary environment, things like client records, financial reports and inventory data is all housed in one place, generally on a computer or hard drive. Operating as an e-Business puts you in the unique position of having to come up with creative ways for both you and your staff to have access to all of these important files and spreadsheets. Just as your business operates remotely, sending, sharing and uploading files in the same manner becomes a high priority.

Adopting a BYOD model into your e-Business not only makes a whole lot of sense logistically, it also has benefits and perks that echo into other areas such as employee efficiency, morality and productivity.

BYOD Defined

The BYOD phenomenon started taking more ground in businesses across the globe as the availability of new technologies and devices began entering the market at a faster pace and with more accessible price points for the average consumer. The basic idea behind BYOD is that individuals in the workplace, especially those involved in tech related fields, grow accustomed to one particular device or operating system over another and consequently perform better when using these devices. When these individuals enter a new working environment often times they are forced to adapt to whichever devices the company has supplied.

For example, let’s take the hypothetical individual “John”. John has just graduated from a prestigious design school in LA. While attending University, John became particularly accustomed to his 21.5 inch, 2.7 GHz iMac, complete with all of his designing software and perfectly optimized for the best efficiency on John’s end. John has since taken a job as graphic designer for your company, designing all relevant website material, logo creation and branding new items as you roll them out. However, when John shows up to his first day of work he is met with a computer with a Windows operating system and a slew of design software that is as foreign to him as the Korean language. John is now tasked with the laborious and time intensive project of mastering this new software and understanding an operating system to which he has had no real previous experience with. Aside from the burden this puts on John, your business is now responsible for these training hours and time lost. A business that uses a BYOD structured workplace would have seen John off and designing within the first few hours he set foot in your doors.

Further research into this model has shown that these employees often own technology or devices that are in fact far superior to the ones that would have been otherwise supplied to them at the new job.

As wave after wave of newly graduated students poured into workplaces across the world, occurrences similar to Johns began happening more and more and rather than combating this war on devices, business started opening up their doors and allowed their employees to bring in their own.In other cases, companies were unconsciously shifting over to a BYOD centered working environment without even realizing it.

Now, the phenomenon has a name and is quickly catching on in companies and enterprises all over the world. Corporations in India and Europe are currently the leaders in the BYOD stratosphere but the movement is also catching on here stateside.

The Financial Gains of a BYOD Workplace

If your e-Business has just launched, chances are you do not have a huge financial backer that gives you the luxury of supplying your employees and office the latest and most state of the art devices. Establishing a BYOD method in your workplace from the get-go can do a lot in terms of alleviating some of the financial burdens that are present when a business is in its nascent years.

For example let’sreturn to our hypothetical e-Business office situation. Your average startup environment will generally have no more than five employees from the get go. Supplying yourself and the other employees with computers, then perhaps smartphones for one or two people in higher forms of management is by no means a cheap endeavor. With the most basic of iMacs running at about $1,200 a pop and smartphones coming up at about $150 you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag. Take in to account things like internet security subscriptions and the cost of running operating system conversion software like Parallels or Boot Camp and the number gets even higher.

In some cases, switching over to a BYOD structured environment in all areas of your office just doesn’t make sense. The move to BYOD is an intuitive one and can have more benefits for certain employees more than others. However, even if the switch isn’t on a full blown scale, it’s important to realize that even small changes can make an impact on your company’s expense reports. These saved dollars can be better allocated to sectors of your company that can be improved with a little more financial wiggle room.

BYOD; HR and Employee Efficiency

While the financial side of the BYOD movement is what is generally first thought at first glance, don’t neglect the effects this philosophy can have on other areas of your workplace, particularly those in the human resources and productivity departments.

Noticing this switch, the WiFi gurus over at iPass set into motion a study that polled some 1,200 employees across the world who work in an environment that highly dependent on information being shared across the internet. The data gathered from these corporations and businesses that participated was quite interesting.

What this study found was that employees who used their own devices in the workplace never really stopped using them when five o’ clock hit or the weekend came. Survey respondents noted that having access to work emails, databases and spreadsheets while at home made it simple to respond to messages and check important information after dinner or during a commercial break when watching TV.

The biggest advantage these people reported of a BYOD model was the ease and flexibility such a system made room for. On average, employees reported working upwards to an additional 20 hours a week under a BYOD structured workplace. Perhaps even more alarming were the number of people who cited that they don’t even fully disconnect over holidays. Only about 8% or the surveyors responded by saying they powered down their devices during these times.

BYOD can also have a huge effect on employee job satisfaction and morale. Giving the OK and allowing individual’s own devices to be used in and out of the workplace establishes a level of trust between upper forms of management and the employees on the front lines. You are essentially saying to your employees that you are confident in their ability practice discretion and best practices while out of the office. Employees that are aware of this have been shown to exhibit a higher regard for their company. They often care about its success and performance to a higher degree than their peers in non-BYOD working atmosphere.

What Makes the Cut?

So with all the talk on its benefits in the workplace which laptops, smartphones and tablets make the cut? Simply because a device has WiFi capabilities or it can run and download apps should not automatically make it suitable for the working environment. Establish a unique protocol for your business on what is and what is not approved.

For starters, the device in question must have some way of accessing company emails. This is essentially the backbone of a BYOD ready device. While all laptops will of course have this feature, make sure your employee’s phones and tablets are capable of being synced up to the work email inbox.

Where the BYOD movement really takes off is when the said device can access app stores like Google Play, or iTunes. These resources house hundreds of worthwhile applications that can really aid your e-Business on a variety of fronts. From collaborative apps to cloud storage software, an app-ready device should really be a must for all BYOD businesses.

Expecting Mistakes and Anticipating Errors

As with any piece of technology, the propensity they hold to break down and glitch up at the worst possible time is always a factor. The foundation for a solid BYOD work environment will always rely on the ability to be wired in to a shared network or file sharing system like Google Drive or Dropbox. Getting devices synced up to these programs is relatively painless but the possibility for user error is always present. Given the spectrum of devices that have the potential to exist in BYOD environment you will need to properly account for errors and missteps for a variety of platforms.

So how do you anticipate these errors and create a protocol for dealing with them? The answer is simple. Make them yourself. That’s right, spend some time actually making these mistakes yourself. Sit down and set up an SSL certificate for secure internet browsing. But, instead of doing it properly, intentionally goof when connecting a device. Look for steps that have the potential for errors, then make them yourself and consequently create a step-by-step guide on how to remedy it.

This BYOD troubleshooting guide can then be emailed out to all new employees or even posted on the company’s website behind a login. Either way, make it accessible and easy to read. If creating a guide like this isn’t your strong suit, the internet is alive with those who have gone before you. Shaping your own unique guide with the help of these resources is also an easy way to create your business’s troubleshooting directory.

BYOD Apps and Software

The mainstay of a solid BYOD working environment sees the use of some important programs and apps by everyone on the team. While it is important to allow the flexibility for your workforce to be able to choose some of their programs independently, a successful e-Business will never get off the ground if you have a diversity of cloud services and virtual hard drives being used by employees.

Streamline your company into using just one of these services. The most intuitive of these programs is by far Google’s Google Drive. With the ability to simultaneously collaborate on spreadsheets and documents, Google’s cloud service is simply unmatched. What is also nice about their software is that it can be downloaded on everything from Sally’s android tablet, to John’s iMac and even your personal computer in the office.

There are of course other options aside from Google Drive. Dropbox offers much of the same services and has the potential to be a little bit easier to set up across platforms. Saving, transferring and sharing information is as easy as dropping a file into a communal folder that lets anyone with proper access credentials view the information deposited there.

Other great apps are out on the market as well and office suite powerhouse Microsoft Office is set to debut their array of tools to the iOS store sometime early next year. This means the ability to draft up word documents, excel sheets and even PowerPoint presentations on the go.

Keeping Your Information Safe

The biggest critique of the BYOD movement is the potential risks it poses to your company’s security. It seems like every week you can open up the newspaper or go to the homepage of your preferred news site and see which new company has had its information compromised due to security leaks in mobile devices or laptops.

To combat this in your e-Business, you will want to make sure you have adequately covered all of your bases before giving the go ahead for employees to access and store sensitive company data on their phones.

Mobile security features are a must, this even means for Apple iOS systems, an area that for a long time has been seen as impenetrable to the viruses and glitches that their PC counterparts have succumbed to over the years.

With the mobile security market is alive with different varieties of security software, the choice on which one you want to use in your business really comes down to your taste level and budget. Every big name security company out their today has exhaustive resources for your business to take advantage of.

When looking into which security set-up will be the best fit for the job, one tool will take precedence over all the rest. This essential feature of or a BYOD workplace is the ability for information to be remotely wiped in the event of a device being lost or even stolen. The good news for you is internet security companies have also gotten on board with the BYOD movement and many have made the task of remote data wipe less of a headache then it has been in the past.

When an employee comes into the workplace with a new device a simple syncing process is needed and their device becomes registered to the company database. From here, a user with the proper access rights can login and manage these accounts and wipe the important data if the procedure becomes necessary.

Into the Future

As your company continues to grow you will need to start thinking about things like reimbursing data plans and perhaps even offsetting some of the costs for employees who come to your business with no preexisting devices. While almost 90% of a typical workforce has access to these things, coming across that odd 10% who are very hirable but none the less, have no adequate technology of their own will always be a possibility.

The “bring your own” philosophy isn’t all about a particular user wanting to come into a work situation and use their own device of choice. It so much more than that. As your e-Business begins to flourish, different departments with different needs will spring up. Laying the groundwork for the flexibility that BYOD provides is an excellent tool to get your e-business prepared for the brightest possible future.

 

Image CreditsComputer, Laptop, Phone, Tablet connection via BigStock

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