Finding the happy medium between BYOD and shadow IT

By Daniel Newman, Co-CEO V3 Broadsuite and president of Broadsuite Media Group, Broadsuite

Portable electronic devices are everywhere. Growing in number and types over the past decade, smartphones, tablets, and everything in between make up the daily devices we use to stay in touch and up to date. With more and more companies adopting BYOD (bring your own device) policies, shadow IT isn’t really in the shadows anymore. Shadow IT is now being perceived as an important step in innovation, opening new channels of development for businesses, and reducing overall costs.

As far back as 2012, IT research and advisory company Gartner was predicting that 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures would be managed outside the IT department’s budget by 2015. Based on the innovations in technology that have occurred since 2012, we can probably assume that that number’s even higher.

Employees tend to be happier and more productive when using their own devices and applications they are comfortable with and already know how to use.

So, what’s the problem with welcoming so-called shadow IT? Well, security issues, for one thing. Also, there’s a lack of control — something the IT department has traditionally been accustomed to wielding.

Let’s take a look at these issues, and see if we can find a happy medium between BYOD and shadow IT.

The problem

No matter how hard you try, a company cannot fully prevent BYOD. Businesses are starting to adapt to and adopt trends like remote working, job sharing, file sharing, and flex time. Cloud computing is becoming the norm, and mobile seems to be unstoppable.

The growth of BYOD

A staggering 95 percent of employees report using at least one personal device while at work. While the immediate reaction from companies may be to disallow BYOD, there are a number of gains from allowing these devices. First, research suggests an increase in productivity associated with BYOD. Secondly, being able to bring in these personal electronics without risk improves employee convenience and moral. Finally, it is argued that having a pro-BYOD policy makes the company more attractive to potential employees.

“Fostering communication, progress tracking, and management tools like Slack, Asana, or Basecamp allow for people to use BYOD to work more effectively.” – DANIEL NEWMAN

A common benefit to BYOD is out-of-the-office solutions for group collaboration and project completion. Fostering communication, progress tracking, and management tools like Slack, Asana, or Basecamp allow for people to use BYOD to work more effectively. However, providing support for everyone’s devices is a problem. In addition, the company may have their own system set in place for communication and project collaboration.

There are also tangible benefits to housing your data systems infrastructure off-site and embracing cloud computing and external applications. You save money in development costs, maintenance, testing, upgrades capacity planning, and performance management. Plus, backup and recovery of data and infrastructure becomes the responsibility of the vendor.

The middle path

Companies are recognizing that it is becoming increasingly difficult to successfully police BYOD. Knowingly or unknowingly, individuals will use personal devices for work, opening up potential risk.

A middle-of-the-road solution offers the best answer to this question. While allowing individuals to BYOD, companies must ensure they have the proper policies in place, and that these policies directly address issues like what applications can be used, as well as having clearly mapped out security and privacy rules and guidelines. By helping them understand the need for integrity and security, employees can become the first line of defense against potential BYOD problems.

Completely cutting off employees from their devices will not work. As this connection is made through BYOD in the workspace, it is a more efficient use of resources to teach instead of punish. Generally, the best way to approach BYOD is to start off by allowing these devices, tweaking policies when situations deem necessary. Therefore, the maximum amount of individual freedom is kept while providing the highest degree of IT and IS support.

This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

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