As the owner and operator of an e-Business, staying on top of the latest trends and business models is of the upmost importance if you want to be seen as both competitive in your niche as well as desirable by employees and future staff members. The BYOD or “bring your own device” philosophy is one of these trends that is quickly sweeping through corporations and enterprises across the globe.
An e-Business by nature has no tangible “storefront”. In a more customary environment, things like client records, financial reports and inventory data is all housed in one place, generally on a computer or hard drive. Operating as an e-Business puts you in the unique position of having to come up with creative ways for both you and your staff to have access to all of these important files and spreadsheets. Just as your business operates remotely, sending, sharing and uploading files in the same manner becomes a high priority.
Adopting a BYOD model into your e-Business not only makes a whole of sense logistically, it also has benefits and perks that echo into other areas such as employee efficiency, morality and productivity.
So What Exactly is Bring Your Own Device?
The BYOD phenomenon started taking more ground in businesses across the globe as the availability of new technologies and devices began entering the market at a faster pace and with more accessible price points. The basic idea behind BYOD is that individuals in the workplace, especially those involved in tech related fields, grow accustomed to one particular device or operating system over another and consequently perform better when using these devices. When these individuals enter a new working environment often times, they are forced to adapt to whichever devices the company has supplied. Research into this structure has shown that these employees often own technology or devices that are far superior to the ones that would have been otherwise supplied to them at the new job.
As wave after wave of newly graduated students poured into the workplace, this occurrence began happening more and more. At some point, in some cases without even realizing it, companies were unconsciously shifting over to a BYOD centered working environment.
Now, the phenomenon has a name and is quickly catching on in companies and enterprises all over the world. Corporations in India and Europe are currently the leaders in the BYOD stratosphere but the movement is also catching on here stateside.
Reaping the Benefits of BYOD; Financially
If your e-Business has just launched, chances are you do not have a huge financial backer that gives you the luxury of supplying your employees and office the latest and most state of the art devices. Establishing a BYOD method in your workplace from the get-go can do a lot in terms of alleviating some of the financial burdens that supplying this technology can create.
For example let’s create a hypothetical e-Business office situation. Your average startup environment will generally have no more than five employees from the get go. Supplying yourself and the other employees with computers, then perhaps smartphones for one or two people in higher forms of management is by no means a cheap endeavor. With the most basic of iMacs running at about $1,200 a pop and smartphones coming up at about $150 you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag. Take in to account things like internet security subscriptions and the cost of running operating system conversion software like Parallels or Boot Camp and the number gets even higher.
A business model that embraces the BYOD movement, even if not on a full blown scale for every employee can drastically cut back on the amount of funds it takes to have a competitive presence in your niche.
Reaping the Benefits of BYOD; Human Relations and Productivity
While the financial side of the BYOD movement can be enticing, don’t forget about what impact such a change in structure can do for you in the areas of human resources and productivity.
Recently, the people over at iPass conducted a survey among companies that currently use a BYOD philosophy. Out of the individuals who chose to participate, the results came back and the numbers were quite interesting.
The biggest advantage these people reported of a BYOD model was the ease and flexibility such a system made room for. On average, employees reported working upwards to an additional 20 hours a week. This was made possible through the convenience of checking emails and files on the go, or in some spare time after dinner while waiting through a TV commercial.
Aside from the productivity gains that a BYOD working environment promotes it also has been shown to incite positive effects both for employee job satisfaction and morale. Giving the okay for these devices to be used at and for work can do a lot in terms of the amount of trust and respect that is imparted to employer to employee.
Simply because a device has WiFi capabilities or it can run and download apps should not automatically make it suitable for the working environment. Establish a protocol for what is and what is not approved.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure said device has the ability to do the most basics of word-processing. This means sending and receiving emails, typing up memos and even the ability to access spreadsheets. A good BYOD device should also have access to an App store or the Google Play store where huge selection of collaborative apps and programs exist that are essential for those in the e-Business world.
As with any piece of technology, the propensity they hold to break down and glitch up at the worst possible time is always a factor. The foundation for a solid BYOD work environment will always rely on the ability to be wired in to a shared network or file sharing system like Google Drive or Dropbox. Getting devices synced up to these programs is relatively painless but the possibility for user error is always present. Given the spectrum of devices that have the potential to exist in BYOD environment you will need to properly account for errors and missteps for a variety of platforms.
To do this, spend a little time actually making these mistakes. Set up an SSL certificate and intentionally put in a wrong piece of information or take a file and put it in the wrong location. After doing this, create short step by step wiki on how to properly deal with these scenarios in the event that they arise with one of your employees.
Helpful Software and Applications
The backbone of a solid BYOD system sees the mutual use of some important programs and apps by everyone on the team. While it is important to allow the flexibility for your workforce to be able to choose some of their programs independently, a successful e-Business will never get off the ground if you have a diversity of cloud services and virtual hard drives being used by employees.
Streamline your company into using just one of these. The most intuitive of these services is by far Google’s Google Drive. With the ability to simultaneously collaborate on spreadsheets and documents, Google’s cloud service is simply unmatched. What is also nice about their software is that it can be downloaded on everything from Sally’s android tablet, to Jim’s new iPhone 5 and even your personal computer in the office.
The biggest critique of the BYOD movement is the potential risks it poses to your company’s security. It seems like every week you can open up the newspaper or go to the homepage of your preferred news site and see which new company has had its information compromised due to security leaks in mobile devices or laptops.
To combat this in your e-Business, you will want to make sure you have adequately covered all of your bases before giving the go ahead for employees to access and store sensitive company data on their phones.
Mobile security features are a must, this even means for Apple iOS systems, an area that for a long time has been seen as impenetrable to virus and flaws in the same way that their PC counterparts have succumbed to over the years.
With the mobile security market being alive with different varieties of security software, the choice on which one you want to use in your business really comes down to your taste level and budget. However, the one thing that needs to be present amongst all of these devices is the ability to remotely wipe data in the event of a device being lost or stolen. With more and more companies needing this feature, all of the top names in the industry like McAfee or TrendMicro offer some form of mobile data wiping.
As your company continues to grow you will need to start thinking about things like reimbursing data plans and perhaps even offsetting some of the costs for employees who come to your business with no preexisting devices. While almost 90% of a typical workforce has access to these things, coming across that odd 10% who are very hirable but none the less, have no adequate technology of their own will always be a possibility.
The “bring your own” philosophy isn’t all about a particular user wanting to come into a work situation and use their own device of choice. It so much more than that. As your e-Business begins to flourish, different departments with different needs will spring up. Laying the groundwork for the flexibility that BYO provides is an excellent tool to get your business prepared for the best possible future.