5 BYOD Pitfalls and How You Can Avoid Them

Vague policies, rogue apps, zombie phones can doom even the best 'Bring Your Own Device' intentions. But the good news is it's not too late to make game-changing adjustments.

Wed, June 19, 2013

CIO — Are you blacklisting rogue or time-wasting apps? Are you tracking voice, data and roaming usage? Have you stamped out jail-broken phones?

If you're not doing these and other Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) related tasks, then you're setting yourself up for a fall that can threaten your network security, reduce worker productivity and take a bite out of your budget.

BYOD is a relatively new mega technology trend—only a few years old—and early adopters have made their share of missteps. Now their lessons learned are bubbling to the top, pitfalls are being exposed and best practices are emerging.

"There's still a long way to go," says CEO Pankaj Gupta of Amtel, a mobile device management vendor. "But it's getting cleaned up pretty rapidly."

Here are five pitfalls that early BYOD adopters have encountered, along with ways to avoid them.

Pitfall 1: An 'Open Door' Attitude Toward Apps

Most iPhone owners visit the App Store regularly, downloading all sorts of apps—from Dropbox to Angry Birds—that are dangerous to the enterprise. These apps can lead to corporate data leakage, open the doors to malware or bring the potential to make workers unproductive.

BYOD's early adopters often acquiesced to employee demands ("Are you saying I can't have Angry Birds on my iPad?!") when it came to apps, even allowing employees to expense publicly available apps such as iWorks and GoodReader.

[Related: 10 Popular iPhone Apps - Blacklisted!]

But smart CIOs are taking control of this exploding app problem before it gets out of hand. They're building private enterprise app stores, developing custom apps, creating app whitelists and blacklists, pushing out mandatory apps, and putting in place copy-and-paste restrictions.

It's important to note that they're not taking a hardline approach. Part of the job of the CIO is to find middle ground. Geofencing, for instance, creates a virtual perimeter that lets employees have Angry Birds and play Angry Birds, but just not play Angry Birds at work. Geofencing also prevents employees from downloading hi-def videos on their BYOD tablets and clogging up the network.

Pitfall 2: Playing the Role of Big Brother

Geofencing's dark side, however, is that it requires BYOD phones and tablets to turn on location services. But employees don't like companies to use their personal devices as corporate spies and monitor their whereabouts. It's a little too Orwellian.

"There's this little war going on with privacy," Gupta says.

But CIOs need to continuously monitor BYOD phones and tablets to protect sensitive information. This means they need to strike a balance between a company's right to monitor, access, review and disclose company data on a mobile device and the employee's expectations of privacy.

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