A Trifecta of BYOD Concerns

So you’re a free spirit kind of person, eh?  Don’t want to be using any device forced on you by “the man,” and so you’ll take any and every chance […]

So you’re a free spirit kind of person, eh?  Don’t want to be using any device forced on you by “the man,” and so you’ll take any and every chance to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to fight, thank you?

You might want to think again.

While it’s true that many companies saddle employees with outdated, previous generation hardware, if you push for a BYOD policy in your shop, be careful what you wish for because there are some issues–lions in the tall grass waiting to pounce–with such a policy that you may not have considered.

1 — When you reach for your smartphone, laptop or handheld who’s paying the tab?  Yeah, not the benevolent company bean counter.  You have to pony up the cash for those devices.  Not that it seems to be a big deterrence factor.  Those in the BYOD tribe–worldwide–said in a recent survey that they would be willing to pay $965 of out their own pockets for devices to use on the job and then shell out an extra $734 in yearly data plans to feed the little digital beasts.

Of course, you may not have a choice:  A recent Gartner survey of CIOs found that 38% said their companies planned stop providing employees with devices by 2016. Gartner also expects that nearly 50% of employers will demand employees provide their own devices for work purposes – out-of-pocket – by 2017.

2 — The hardware is just the tip of the iceberg.  The apps cost money, too.  Companies may foot the bill for apps needed to do you your, but they might insist that you use their supplied devices to run those apps.  In that case, you’re stuck footing the bill for apps to do your job (and yes, that’s a tax deduction in the U.S., thank you very much).

3– BYOD raises interesting legal issues.  Obviously, when you’re using a company-owned device you are subject to their policies about how much you can or can’t use that device for personal work.  The company can’t reach out and restrict what you use your personal device for; however, company policies may still spill over onto your personal device.  For example, email and company data.  Your company has a legal right to sift through any email you might send or receive while using a company email address.  If you’re using your own device to access your company email, what’s to stop your employer from demanding that you hand over your personal device so they can inspect any company data held on it?

Can a company really do that?  Welcome to the world of grey legal issues.

And some companies demand that devices used on the job be subject to data wiping.  In other words, if you leave the company the company could nuke your entire phone, contacts, all data, etc., etc., also a high personal cost (a regular backup strategy would help mitigate some of this loss, of course.  And you DO back-up regularly, don’t you?  ‘Nuff said… )

Is BYOD something you should advocate for?  You’ll have to do a virtual “cost benefit analysis” of your own personal workflow and habits to make that determination.  The point is, the freedom and flexibility of BYOD that appears at first blush is more of a complex calculus than one might imagine.  And it’s one that only you can figure for yourself.


About brock

Brock is currently the Executive Editor at Atlantic Media Strategies and former Chief Washington Correspondent for MSNBC; he is the founder/creator/editor of CyberWire Dispatch, the Net's pioneering online journalistic news service. Previously he was the Director of Communications for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based public interest group working to keep the Internet open, innovative and free. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect the opinions, attitudes or policy positions of his employer(s) past or present.