The implementation and spread of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, which allow employees to use their personal wireless devices such as smartphones and tablets for work activities, represents the most radical shift in the economics of client computing for business since PCs swept into the workplace, according to a report from IT research firm Gartner.
The Gartner research follows numerous surveys and studies suggesting that while BYOD adoption continues to grow, IT departments are struggling to adequately manage security and protect sensitive corporate data.
Though still in its infancy, and limited at the moment to smartphones and tablets, eventually BYOD initiatives would expand to include employees' notebook computers and other devices, according to the Gartner study. Even businesses that do not plan to adopt BYOD policies should have a clear position on allowance of personal devices in the workplace, the report said.
The report also noted that while BYOD programs have the potential to reduce costs, they often do not. Mobile workers can incur expensive data-roaming charges, while the drive to deliver ever more capability to the mobile device, the costs of software, infrastructure, personnel support and related services will increase over time. The inclusion of file-sharing platforms, business applications and collaboration tools will increase IT operations costs even further.
Gartner analysts recommend businesses ensure data security through a mix of policy, software, infrastructure controls and education in the near term and with application management and appropriate cloud services in the longer term. The research firm recommends that IT work closely with human resources and legal departments to ensure compatibility with taxes, labor, corporate liability and employee privacy implications. With companies working to control security and monitor data access, organizations need to be aware of the legal implications involved in tracking personal devices on a corporate network.
This article was originally published on 08-28-2012