​BYOD backpedaling: How to convince employees to give up personal devices

​Companies are discovering that BYOD causes more problems than solutions. Now they just have to convince their employees.

5 important things to know about BYOD Employees are going to use their own devices whether you want them to or not, so you need a good program to manage them. Here are five things to know about BYOD.

Bring your own device or BYOD has been a great hit with companies and their employees, but there is growing evidence of pushback.

"There are indeed signs that BYOD has peaked," said Joel Windels, vice president of global marketing at NetMotion, a mobile performance solution provider. "More companies are taking a step back. They are saying, 'Hold on! We never really planned for this.'"

SEE: BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy template download (Tech Pro Research)

Windels is referring to the many companies that implemented BYOD because senior managers wanted convenience. In other cases, especially for small companies, BYOD was cost-effective since companies didn't pay for devices.

Where trouble brews

But now some companies are discovering that BYOD causes more problems than solutions. Companies found employees were more likely to use their own mobile devices to grant credentials and issued their credentials to, say, online dating apps, which were not monitored by the company. Further, major liability risks occurred when employees accessed third parties with malicious intent making them victims of phishing and security breach schemes. All of the above can lead to stolen customer information, stolen intellectual property, and security intrusions that can bring down an entire corporate network.

Another reason for BYOD backtracking is the implementation of GDPR in Europe, which focuses on the information privacy rights of individuals.

"One area where we see companies getting away from BYOD is home services," said Windels. For example, in the US and UK companies may use contract workers who were allowed to use their own mobile devices. "IT was suddenly confronted with managing a multitude of dissimilar devices with different operating systems and OS versions. It became a nightmare to manage," Windels continued.

The solution, said Windels, was to enact a new mobile device policy—where field workers must use a corporate-issued mobile device.

How to backtrack

To make the transition back to corporate-issued mobile devices attractive, the company offered employees a free mobile device of their choice from a select list of smartphones and tablets. The offer also included a fully paid data plan.

"Because employees are already used to BYOD, you have to offer employees a perk to get them enthused about the change back to corporate-owned devices," said Windels. "The home services company—and other companies—recognize that encouraging a conversion off BYOD by offering free smartphones and tablets reduces the greater liability that a company is under whenever its employees use their own devices."

BYOD policy revision buy-in also means giving employees the opportunity to use smartphones in a circumscribed way for personal purposes, such as sending a text message, making a personal phone call, or watching a movie during employee off hours.

In one example, an airline issued tablets and smartphones to its cabin crews. "On the plane, you're accessing 3G or 4G, and you can't really stream movies from Netflix," said Windels. "But the feedback from crew members was that when they were waiting for the next flight and had WiFi access they could easily stream a movie or use their devices for personal purposes."

The combination of corporate control over mobile devices with opportunities for employees to use their devices for personal purposes off hours seems to work.

"The key is offering incentives to employees that help them embrace the idea," said Windels. "A free data plan, the latest choice of Android or iPhone models, and clear standards on when employees can use the devices for personal purposes all contribute to a new business model that revises BYOD policies to facilitate a movement toward employee mobile devices that the company can control."

Also see

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Image: scyther5, Getty Images

By Mary Shacklett

Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...