Bring Your Own Device: The Pros and Cons of BYOD for Small Businesses

by Brian Benton
- Dec 18 2013 - 4 min read
Micke Tong

There will always be a tug-of-war–like battle between your employees’ tech needs and wants and your small business’ needs and budget. Small-business owners understand that keeping the troops happy means they will be more productive. That is the main appeal for BYOD, aka Bring Your Own Device.

Smartphones and tablets are the tech thing of the day right now, and you either have them or want them. If you have them, why not use them at work, too? After all, they have several tools that you could be using to be more productive. That’s the general idea behind BYOD. It’s a good bet that most of your employees already have smartphones and want to use them for work. Those that know how are likely already using them to check company email, sync calendars, and call clients. Nobody wants to carry around two phones (a personal phone and a company phone). So why not let employees bring their own device and save your company some money on hardware?

On the other hand, who owns the data on those devices? Are the employees okay with paying their cell phone bill themselves when they are using it for work? Here are some of the pros and cons of using BYOD in your small business.

bring your own device

The Pros

1. Employees Pay for the Hardware. Smartphones are expensive. So are tablets. You could save the company some money by not having to buy them. A smart phone, depending on the cell carrier’s plan, can easily cost several hundred dollars. The monthly bill can also cost a fortune. Now multiply that by every employee that needs a phone. BYOD could mean big savings.

2. Employees Can Upgrade When They Want. Want the latest phone? Okay. Go ahead and buy it. Your employees won’t necessarily need the latest and greatest, but many may want it. BYOD allows them to get the phone they want.

3. Employees Can Work While Away from the Office. If your employee has a smartphone or tablet, it means they can do quite a bit of work when they are away from the office. This means you could potentially better serve your clients’ needs, and you can get ahold of them in many different ways. It also allows your employees to be able to venture out of the office without fear of not being able to communicate with clients. They will also be able to respond quickly to client needs.

4. A Happy Employee Is a Good Employee. Employees who are using technology that they love could potentially feel better about work. People love their smartphones. They love using them. If they have them, they are going to use them during the day. It’s impossible to stop in many cases. Letting them use those devices will make them more comfortable while they are working and thus more productive. Happy employees are better employees.

bring your own device

The Cons

1. Data Ownership. If the employee is paying for the phone and the plan, who owns the data on it? How can you make sure your client data is secure? What if the employee quits or is fired? Do you have the right to delete that data from a device that doesn’t belong to the company?

2. Client-Employee Relationship. If the device is a phone and your clients have that phone number, will they call the employee when they are no longer your employee? They are already familiar and comfortable with the former employee. They could easily leave you for them. BYOD can make this process more likely.

3. Device Liability. Who is liable if the device is lost? What if it is stolen? If the employee was using it for work when it was broken, who will replace it?

4. Legal Liability. If the device is lost or stolen and it contained private client data, who is legally liable? Is this event a breach of contract?

5. IT Support. Who will be responsible for the IT needs of a BYOD plan? Will your IT department be responsible for maintaining an employee’s personal device? Who will ensure the device’s security?

6. Multiple Operating Systems/Plans. Without a business-device plan, every employee could potentially have a different phone, operating system, app account, and version of apps. It’s also a potential security risk. Servicing so many different types of devices will require many resources. Mainly time.

7. So Dicey It’s Worth Mentioning Twice: IT. BYOD is an IT nightmare. There is no control, no standardization, no verification, no way to control data, and it’s very difficult to ensure your employees have the tools they actually need.

8. Hardware/Software Compatibility. There is no way to guarantee that employees’ devices will be compatible with company hardware and software. They simply may not work, and you have no means of fixing it.

Before you decide to go with BYOD, make sure to take a good look at it. But don’t say no right away, either. Employees who use their own devices are typically happy to do so. Make sure your company’s interests are taken into account. Whichever way your company decides to go, have a plan in place. Define who owns what, who and when the devices can be used, and figure out what happens when the company and the employee part ways.

For further reading, check out Pros and Cons of Bringing Your Own Device to Work. Then discover a few suggestions for relevant designing-and-drafting apps to use on your mobile devices.


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