BYOD Concerns Grow as Movement Gains Steam

By | May 28, 2012

The advent of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has brought many companies hope that they can reduce their IT budgets while simultaneously increasing employee productivity and happiness. A new survey of service providers shows that while demand for BYOD solutions is growing, there are some serious lingering issues that could either prevent adoption or cause issues after a business embraces BYOD. Mid-market companies should consider whether this kind of solution will help their business, but they need to know all the potential drawbacks as well.

BYOD Concerns Evident in New Survey

The latest survey surrounding this major trend in IT was conducted in April 2012 by Heavy Reading on behalf of Amdocs. The survey looked at a number of wireline, wireless, and cable service providers from around the world and asked them about various aspects of BYOD.

As this eWeek article discusses, almost three quarters of respondents expect to see an astonishing 10- to 25-percent growth in BYOD requests over the next year, showing that BYOD is no longer on the fringe of IT telecommunications solutions, but at its core. The service providers listed employee satisfaction and cost savings as the main reasons businesses were switching to these types of programs, although there have been some reports this year debating the true cost savings.

The concerns arise when it comes to system integration on the side of the service provider, as over half of respondents have customers asking for the ability to split billing between work and personal and to disable certain areas of the device when it was being used for personal purposes. The lack of a unified business and operational support system is seen as a major obstacle for greater BYOD adoption.

The survey also identified other barriers that the service providers see, like increased bandwidth use and increased IT support costs. It is interesting that the survey didn't touch more on the data security issues that block many potential BYOD adopters, as one would figure that the service providers who figured out how to provide that level of security would position themselves well as this movement gains steam.

In a recent BT survey noted in this Communications Technology article, over 80 percent of IT decision makers noted that giving employees around-the-clock access to business systems on personal devices was the single greatest threat to corporate IT security.

The Future of BYOD

It seems that every good piece of information on this IT movement is quickly followed with a rash of BYOD concerns centered around integration or security. The positive sides of BYOD may be too great to ignore, but that doesn't mean companies should blindly embrace the solution.

Mid-market companies are increasingly on the receiving end of targeted attacks from thieves and hackers, as the data that the companies store is just as lucrative as that of the big guys, but security is often significantly less stringent. Expect to see attacks on midsize companies rise significantly over the next few years, so now may not be the best time to make changes that could negatively impact the businesses overall security.

Still, BYOD can't be ignored entirely. IT managers need to look at a range of potential BYOD options and solutions, from employees having free access to company data on their personal mobile devices to employees having to install segregating software on their device that effectively creates two devices, one for business and one for personal.

This Amdocs survey shows that service providers know about the growing importance of BYOD, so companies should expect these providers to start offering their own solutions over the next few years, which could make it much easier to ease into a BYOD atmosphere. But mid-market IT managers and professionals need to seriously start considering their BYOD options and the potential pitfalls, as this movement looks to envelop IT departments around the world over the next few years.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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