Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as a trend is touching enterprises
of all sizes. The Small to Medium Business (SMB) can find a lot to love in BYOD,
but to reap the benefits, they need to pay close attention to the basics and not
be drawn into the hype.
BYOD policies of even a formal BYOD initiative may seem overkill
for an SMB. There’s a lot of contradicting viewpoints about whether or not an SMB
even needs to worry about BYOD. However, if an employee’s personal device is
accessing your corporate network and being used to conduct corporate business
on a regular basis, then your SMB needs at least a basic BYOD framework that covers
device security, network security, and related policies.
Here are some basics for SMBs to consider about BYOD.
phone reimbursements vs. stipend
Depending on the mobile service providers in the local area,
SMBs may not have the economies of scale that larger companies have when it
comes to purchase phones, calling plans, and data plans from mobile
carriers. If your SMB expects employees to use their personal smartphones
for business calls and email, then you need to sit down with your accountant to
figure out if a phone allowance or a stipend makes the most sense for
reimbursing your employees.
There isn’t one-size-fits-all for this matter when it comes to
SMBs, so a meeting with your accountant and some key employees to hash out
reimbursements vs. a stipend could be quite enlightening.
and require smartphone security
Just because smartphones are charging on employee desks around
your office does it mean that your employees are knowledgeable about mobile
security, so even basic mobile security education should be part of your move to
Before considering an expensive Mobile Device Management (MDM) system,
your SMB might be better served by just advocating and requiring that smartphone
security measures are in place for any BYOD smartphone that touches your
company’s cloud applications. Smartphone security rules could be as simple as
- Password protection/locking on the home screen
- Anti-virus protection
- Find my iPhone turned on
If your SMB is trying to go BYOD on a budget, there are low
cost if not free security options to consider. One example is the free version
of Divide (iOS/Android) for securing your BYOD smartphones. When I reviewed Divide for TechRepublic, it’s
ease of setup and features left a strong impression on me. It certainly could
be the focal point of a low maintenance BYOD security standard.
“touch free” with the cloud
BYOD is another element of an SMB’s business that can take
advantage of cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS)
applications. Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps for Business providing
a communications infrastructure means that mobile devices can be provisioned and
connect to corporate resources without the need for a VPN or other security
measures. And with the help of SaaS, BYOD devices don’t have to touch your
corporate network, saving you from having to invest in an expensive MDM platform.
In fact, setting up email on a SaaS provider is
just like setting up email from a consumer ISP, but perhaps with a few more
steps. You can create a job aid to walk employees through the process of how to connect their
smartphones to your SaaS-based email, or you can point them to self-help pages online so
they can complete the setup by themselves.
When the SaaS model extends to Customer Relationship Management
(CRM), task management, and project management, free mobile apps are available
for the major platforms.
If your SMB goes the SaaS route for technology infrastructure,
then your approved apps list will pretty much be decided for your users. To keep setup and BYOD smartphone provisioning simple, a basic approved
apps list should be set to keep your IT support requirements a bit saner.
Fortunately, beyond your SaaS apps (free downloads from the App
Store or Google Play), your requirements for other phone apps should be
Self-service BYOD is an option for SMBs to explore for reasons
of sheer infrastructure and staffing. During a recent conversation with Yaacov
Cohen, CEO of Harmon.ie, he espouses a lightweight approach to BYOD for
his company’s SMB customers, including SaaS infrastructure and an approved apps
list for BYOD devices. Using a self-service approach to BYOD, your employees
smartphones never touch your physical network, which lets the security experts
working for your SaaS providers do the heavy lifting when it comes to your
for the SMB
SMBs are an ideal candidate for BYOD. By running with a basic
framework of business decisions and technology choices, they can skate by much
of the hype and doubts that make BYOD initiatives so complex at times inside
larger enterprises. Does your SMB have a BYOD policy or plans to implement a BYOD initiative? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.