‘Bring Your Own Device’ culture in Kent SMEs

During the summer of 2014, researchers from the Department of Computing at Canterbury Christ Church University conducted a study into the concept of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) in small and medium enterprises in Kent.

The phenomenon of BYOD is a trend which is believed to heighten productivity of employees and the business itself. This concept is currently one of the up and coming large technological trend for businesses and encompasses the implementation of policies which allow employees to associate and use their own device with the company’s IT infrastructure, giving the employees access to business-specific and/or restricted data and services internally and externally. Mobility demands within enterprises are continuously growing, however questions arise as to whether BYOD can help fulfil such requirements or whether it presents security challenges and risks too significant for implementation.

It has been observed that approximately two-thirds of smartphone owners will use their personal devices to engage with enterprise related activities (Ellis et al., 2012). A study conducted by IBM (2013) concluded that 82 percent of respondents expected smartphones to play a “critical role” in business productivity in two years. BYOD is already occurring at a rapid rate; a survey covering 17 countries discovered that 88 percent of executives admitted that their employees were using their own personal devices for business purposes (Avanade Inc., 2012). Interestingly, Cisco (2012) discovered that 48% of managers would never allow BYOD in their business, while 57% simultaneously admitted that some employees were using personal devices without managerial consent.

Of course, BYOD is not without its risks. Alarmingly, a survey of 400 IT professionals found that almost half of the companies that implement BYOD had suffered some form of data breach (Harris, 2012). The affected companies reacted in a variety of ways, including restricting data access rights (45%) or installing security software (43%); the remaining 12 percent of respondents shut down their BYOD program altogether. It is concerning that only 6% of SMEs regard new technology trends as having a potentially negative impact (Zainzinger, 2013).

For the most part businesses base their existence on turning the best profit possible, and if BYOD is not seen to contribute to this dominant requirement, then it is unlikely that such a scheme will be implemented efficiently, if at all. Businesses also focus on absolute operations efficiency, which BYOD could assist with if implemented correctly. However substantial risks through the concept of BYOD occur in the knowledge that it is not yet fully understood at this point in time, questioning if the risks are worth taking. As a business, the creation of a policy should be upheld, and management of the policy and risks is key in decreasing the associated security flaws with BYOD and the productivity versus security battle. In other words, a policy should be regarded as the result of a continuous feedback mechanism.

References

Avanade Inc. (2012). Global Survey Dispels Myths About the Consumerization of IT. Available at: http://www.avanade.com/us/about/avanade-news/press-releases/Pages/Global-Survey-Dispels-Myths-About-the-Consumerization-of-IT-page.aspx (Accessed: 17th July 2014).

Cisco Systems Inc. (2012). Global IT Survey Highlights Enthusiasm over Tablets in the Enterprise, Shows Customization, Collaboration and Virtualization as Key Features. Cisco’s The Network. Available at: http://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content;jsessionid=66CD5DBFCDFAEE9F48DBF3EA86FEB339?type=webcontent&articleId=658006 (Accessed: 25th July 2014).

Ellis, L., Saret, J. and Weed, P. (2012). BYOD: From company-issued to employee-owned devices. Available at: http://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/High%20Tech/PDFs/BYOD_means_so_long_to_company-issued_devices_March_2012.ashx (Accessed: 25th July 2014).

Harris, C. (2012). Mobile Consumerization Trends & Perceptions | IT Executive and CEO Survey. Available at: http://www.trendmicro.com/cloud- content/us/pdfs/business/white-papers/wp_decisive-analytics- consumerization-surveys.pdf (Accessed: 15th July 2014).

IBM Corporation (2013). BYOD: Bring your own device | Why and how you should adopt BYOD. Available at: http://www.ibm.com/mobilefirst/us/en/bring-your-own-device/byod.html (Accessed: 25th July 2014).

Zainzinger, V. (2013). UK SMEs underestimate risks associated with new technologies. Available at: http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/19528-uk-smes-underestimate-risks-associated-with-new-technologies (Accessed: 26th July 2014).

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