The Business of IT Blog

Best Practices for Workplace BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

4 minute read
Muhammad Raza
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Not so long ago, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement was largely contested across the enterprise segment. Proponents of the BYOD trend focused the debate on the productivity benefits of BYOD. Opponents uncompromisingly considered it as a liability—consider the inherent security challenges.

Both sides remained adamant until progressive organizations riding the wave of enterprise mobility took the action, unleashing the unprecedented value propositions that BYOD has to offer. These actions involved strategic best practices as well as layers of risk mitigation activities, enabling BYOD devices to:

  • Power workforce productivity
  • Yield profitability for the organization
  • Adhere to enterprise security needs

Let’s take a look at the bring your own device concept, as well as policies you need to maximize BYOD in practice.

Preparing to support innovation

The concept of BYOD thrives in Agile and DevOps-driven environments where users take advantage of well-integrated cloud solutions to facilitate collaboration, communication, and information access across otherwise siloed organizational departments.

However, the movement falls short between business and IT as service desks often fail to support legitimate needs of the increasingly agile and mobile workforce.

BYOD puts more pressure on the responsibilities of IT service management to incorporate:

  • Quality assurance, audits, and control
  • Security, updates, and vulnerability management
  • Support for new apps, platforms, and devices, among others

But repeated requests, unfavorable governance, and slow request approval processes encourage the workforce to take matters into their own hands. The result is that employees often adopt Shadow IT practices that bypass your security mechanisms designed.

Best practices for BYOD in the workplace

To address these challenges, organizations must invest in the right skillset and advancement in IT transformation to align ITSM capabilities with the BYOD needs of fast-paced DevOps-driven processes.

From a strategic perspective, the following policy best practices can empower organizations to achieve these goals:

1. Understand organizational requirements

Every organization differs in structure, culture, diversity, workforce preferences, IT policies, and even the regulatory compliance requirements. These differences are exacerbated due to your company’s:

  • Geographic location
  • Industry vertical
  • Size and age

As a result, every organization may have unique limitations on BYOD technology adoption, preferences, and requirements.

In DevOps environments, the organization must empower the service management fucntion to develop protocols and procedures designed to facilitate their own unique BYOD requirements in context of the challenges they face. This approach will ensure smooth BYOD adoption that leads to workforce productivity—without disrupting the behavior, compliance, and security posture of the organization.

2. Develop holistic & flexible policies

It is practically impossible to satisfy every member of the workforce with BYOD policies. You must establish BYOD policies designed for every user, every department, and all your tech-business and compliance requirements. The BYOD policies should encompass different user roles, privileges, and controls necessary as part of your mobility strategy.

The most engaging enterprise mobility strategies that facilitate effective collaboration, information access and strict adherence security best practices focus on flexibility and a user-centric approach:

  • Establish simple, automated workflows that make it easier for internal customers to enroll their devices and request approvals for new apps and solutions.
  • Outline the security requirements with clear, simple, and easy-to-understand details.
  • Future-proof your BYOD strategies to address the upcoming needs of internal customers and the business landscape.
  • Finally, respect end-user privacy by implementing the necessary protocols to segregate personal data from business information and apps on BYOD devices.

3. Track BYOD usage

BYOD devices are common targets for sophisticated security attacks. A vulnerable BYOD device with high-level user access and privileges can cause costly data leaks and irreversible damages to the business.

With the enforcement of stringent new regulations, such as GDPR, organizations must balance workforce demands for BYOD against regulatory compliance and security threats. The security risk and implications of BYOD adoption have emerged as a top concern among business organizations, according to Verizon.

Real-time security monitoring and anomaly detection therefore becomes critical to ensure secure enterprise mobility practices with BYOD. IT needs to:

  • Track a range of metrics pertaining to network traffic and security
  • Understand how users and apps access corporate information
  • Restrict data consumption and information access based on organizational security and business policies

4. Educate the workforce

End users act as the first line of defense against cyber-attacks or the first loophole in BYOD security. Knowledgeable and security-aware professionals can help ward off a majority of cyber-attacks that initiate with downloading malicious apps, accessing rogue websites or clicking links on unsolicited phishing email attempts.

Train and convince your workforce to comply with your organization’s security and BYOD policy in a few key ways:

  • Educate employees on the security risks associated with Shadow IT practices.
  • Provide adequate reasons and pathways to avoid security malpractices.
  • Finally, establish a culture of trust and loyalty among the workforce to reduce the possibility of employees going rogue against the organization.

This last item is especially critical, since BYOD devices with access to the corporate network grant disgruntled employees the opportunity to cause real damage to the organization.

5. Empower IT with the right tools

Forward-thinking business organizations transform their IT to meet the enterprise mobility and BYOD needs of today and tomorrow. Organizations need to understand their current working environment and clarify the desired future state of enterprise mobility. BYOD policies should be designed to engage internal customers with the right processes, data and technologies to transition between the current and desired future states.

  • Employ capabilities such as automated device enrollment and configuration and real-time troubleshooting to reduce service desk interactions.
  • Adopt ongoing app vetting processes based on simple and automated workflows that make it convenient for ITSM to comply with app approval requests.
  • Invest in advanced Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) that enable IT admins to facilitate the evolving and diverse BYOD needs of the agile workforce.
  • Implement multiple layers of security to protect BYOD devices; protect corporate data; facilitate effective communication and collaboration; and manage access controls and risks.
  • Include the tooling necessary for risk mitigation and damage limitation in response to security infringements.

Expect a culture change

Lastly, an effective BYOD policy should be designed to instigate a cultural shift toward secure and productive enterprise mobility practices. DevOps already brings best practices that facilitate strong interdepartmental collaboration, integrated business and IT operations, and automated workflows that streamline the adoption of new apps, technologies and processes.

For organizations yet to adopt DevOps, design your BYOD policies to identify and eliminate the inhibitors to BYOD success, such as:

  • Isolated IT departments
  • Siloed business and IT operations
  • Slow and inadequate governance procedures
  • The unnecessary walled gardens that force employees to adopt Shadow IT alternatives

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Muhammad Raza

Muhammad Raza is a Stockholm-based technology consultant working with leading startups and Fortune 500 firms on thought leadership branding projects across DevOps, Cloud, Security and IoT.