Bring your own device (BYOD) is fast becoming a pivotal part of the modern workspace. But an increase in connectivity and a diversity of devices – and a concomitant increase in productivity – brings with it a whole new set of challenges, says Derick Roberts, CEO of TruTeq Devices, the specialist wireless solutions provider.

“BYOD continues to gather steam and cannot be ignored as more and more employees want – and push – to bring their various devices to work, including tablets and smart phones. However, while it may be cheaper for companies to allow this trend – as they don’t have to invest as heavily in technology – employees may end up having unmonitored access to vital company data.”

According to the Global Corporate IT Security 2013 Survey, 75% of South African companies were reluctant to embrace the BYOD trend, with only 17% having a BYOD strategy in place.
Cisco South Africa carried out their own research in 2013, polling a total of 150 local companies. Their findings showed that an average of 52% of employees bring at least one of their own devices into the work place, and that 63% of South African employees were allowed access to the company server or network from a personal device.

“This is a significant number and industry pundits believe this number will rise steadily over the next few years. The challenge is for companies to put in place systems that can handle matters such as security issues,” says Roberts.
Among the benefits of BYOD are convenience and cost saving. It can be in a company’s favour to have staff who bring their own up-to-date electronic devices as this will save a lot of money. Companies, for instance, will not need to spend on expensive laptops and tablets.

Another point in BYODs favour is that employees are familiar with their own devices and have a better working knowledge of them. This could lead to a significant increase in productivity – which translates into more money for the company. Another plus point is the fact that people tend to look after their own devices better -and will quickly carry out repairs if needed.
“Productivity is a big plus. Employees can also carry a single device between work and home and work remotely without transferring information from one machine to another. This means that if an employee has free time he can put in some extra work. Employees also often have free time while commuting – and this also be used for putting in some extra hours of work.

“But,” says Roberts, “the fundamental disadvantage of BYOD is unmonitored access to confidential company information and data. The real danger is that employees working on personal devices could have access to sensitive information outside the work environment, which increases the risk of data leaks.

“Data leaks can also occur when emails are forwarded via attachments, instant messaging or cloud storage apps without the necessary encryption in place. This could be done completely innocently, with an employee not even knowing there has been a security breach.”