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BYOD brings fear, uncertainty and doubt to the enterprise

Tom Kaneshige | March 19, 2014
You lost your smartphone, which you also used for work. Think that's bad news? It gets worse. You wait a few days to tell IT. These days that can get you fired. So now you're thinking, 'I really wish I read that BYOD policy.' Five years after BYOD first caught fire, IT is still trying to figure out how to handle it.

Passing the BYOD Cost (All of It) to Workers
Versen says he has also seen a giant consumer goods company force employees to shoulder the entire cost burden of a BYOD smartphone or tablet. That is, if you want to enjoy the convenience of carrying a single device for work and play, then you have to pay for it. Not just the phone and service but the apps, too. So if you want to make a YouTube training video for work on your BYOD mobile tablet, it'll come out of your pocket.

Hidden costs, such as expense report processing, international roaming charges, and the "zombie phone" — a mobile device presumed dead yet still being billed by the carrier — are driving non-reimbursement, no-stipend BYOD policies. The thinking goes, people will pay for their work-related BYOD phones and tablets much like they pay for wireless service in their homes that they use for work.

"A Fortune 100 company told me that they tried the stipend, but it was killing their backend systems, they were overpaying, and it was a breakage of revenue," Versen says. "By instituting this policy, they thought they were going to put their finger in the BYOD dam. Believe it or not, they had a huge uptick in enrollment."

Then there's the BYOD security threat that has some companies taking extreme measures. Especially for highly regulated companies, the threat is real.

In order to ensure employees follow BYOD security policies, companies might want to think about tying those policies to performance reviews.

Early BYOD adopters found that users wouldn't report a lost or stolen phone for weeks, which constituted a huge risk for corporate data loss. So they began enacting strict policies endorsed at the highest levels of a company, and they hit employees where it hurts.

"We think it's a good policy to make sure that security is not just part of an overall HR policy but, especially for some people, it's part of their annual performance evaluation," Paul Luehr, managing director at Stroz Friedberg, a global data risk management company, told

The Causalities of BYOD
The aforementioned large financial services firm told a roomful of CIOs why they fired three people for breaking BYOD policy, which set off a firestorm discussion, Versen says.

Some CIOs said it was a little harsh, but the financial services firm held to its guns. The company explained that it rolled out BYOD selectively to financial advisors and salespeople who know what's at stake, signed a policy stating that they would be given access to customer financial files and records on their mobile devices, and understood that failure to comply with security policies would lead to termination.


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