BYOD users: my device, my terms

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Bring your own device (BYOD) is delivering productivity improvements and increasing autonomy and company loyalty, but mobile workers still aren’t happy – they want trust and privacy.

The generation that chose to bring their own iPhones and iPads into the workplace rather than cart around 3kg Windows XP laptop with a 30 minute battery life, is concerned about keeping their private lives separate from working existence.  

Not only this, but almost a quarter (24%) of workers generally mistrust giving employers any kind of control over their devices, claims a recent Ovum survey conducted for mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile.

The survey of 5,000 workers in 19 countries reveals a slew of statistics that should be considered by anyone with a mobile workforce:

·        Over 84% of employees rated privacy as a concern when asked to use their own devices at work.

·        30% of respondents preferred their employer to manage their corporate mobility services.

·        42% preferred their mobile operator to manage their corporate mobility services.

·        44% of employees want to keep their work and personal lives separate

·        Employees were also concerned about avoiding malicious websites (67%) and apps (57%), the survey showed.

These findings reflect the difficult balance that is still being sought between enterprise and personal use of mobile devices. Employers want to harness the benefits of a mobile, connected workforce; employees want it too, but not if it means employers gain extra insights into their personality and behavior.

The devil’s in the detail. Switched on BYOD security policy usually states that employees should delete any company data on leaving the firm, and insists on robust protection of the device’s security when it comes to privileged corporate information. Most mobile device management systems already enable firms to manage data held on personal devices – and that’s where the lack of trust kicks in.

Some employees don’t want employers gaining access to their devices, particularly as in some cases the employer then gains access to everything stored on the gadget: not only might this include messages and mail, but personal calendar details and location data. And that raises the fear of highly intrusive employee monitoring.

This seems set to change as the new generation of MDM solutions and more sophisticated devices hit market. Mobile operating system improvements mean enterprises can more easily set up containerization solutions on employee devices.

These enable enterprise techs to create a clear demarcation between personal and enterprise use of the device, putting a fence around employee privacy. It means that in the event an employee leaves the company the firm can delete corporate content, while the worker keeps their privacy while at the firm (and once they leave, of course).

The good news for CIO’s attempting to manage their BYOD transition is that most employees love the convenience of using their mobile device for work: 69% of employees accessed corporate data from their own device this year, up from 57% in 2013.

The mobility-based remodeling of the work-life balance still seems to require a clear gap between the two roles, the survey shows.

Richard Absalom, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Mobility at Ovum explains: “Businesses everywhere need to find ways of balancing corporate security demands with employees’ privacy concerns when using personal devices for work.”

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.