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BYOD continues to add challenges for IT leaders

Sarah K. White | March 3, 2016
A recent study shows that more workers are turning to personal mobile devices to get work done, but businesses need to consider not only the security threats, but also the effect on company culture.

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone in the working world who doesn't have a mobile device. A study from Wrike, a software company that specializes in task and project management, conducted a survey of 851 workers in the U.S. across several roles and industries, including marketing, IT, R&D, finance and human resources, to determine how mobile devices are affecting productivity.

Overwhelmingly, the study found that a majority of workers report using at least one mobile device throughout the day to get work done. Whether it's to tap out a quick email on the go, or taking notes during a call, people are turning to their smartphones and tablets more than ever before.

Of those surveyed, 63 percent reporting using up to four apps to work, while 37 percent report using up to five or more apps. The study found that the majority of those who said they use a mobile for work use their personal device, or one they acquired on their own. "I think this is probably the best for workers, because people are attached to their devices and loyal to their preferred platform, and no one wants to carry two smartphones. Using their preferred device is important, because user experience is going to be very important to using it for productivity," says Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike. However, there is a lot for a company to consider when it comes to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), including security, costs and maintaining a balanced company culture.

Security threats

Although more workers are turning to personal devices to get work done, IT departments still have a lot to consider. While it might save businesses some money in the short term if workers use personal devices they paid for themselves, it leaves IT with little control over company data.

Karsten Scherer, global analyst at TEKsystems has seen a trend in recent data surrounding BYOD, but notes that allowing employees to use personal devices presents unique risks to the enterprise. She suggests that businesses have a strong BYOD plan in place, encourage company-wide security awareness, and acknowledge that a significant portion of breaches are often inadvertently caused by employee negligence, rather than criminal hackers.

"Every company has a complex ecosystem of systems creating, storing, accessing and analyzing data," she says. "When you extend that ecosystem to include devices outside of your immediate control, that level of complexity increases. You've effectively increased the size of your security perimeter."

Weigh the costs

Scherer says that while most companies are likely to dole out mobile devices to workers, whether its laptops, mobile devices or tablets, companies that choose not to might not necessarily save any money. While it might seem cheaper to let workers use devices they purchased themselves, the money that companies will have to spend on security could equal or surpass the cost of the devices themselves.


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