The unified communications revolution has gained momentum in recent years. Simply put, unified communications (or UC) is the technology that groups together several tools used for communication, such as text, e-mail, voice chat, IM, presence, video conferencing, etc., under a single platform, which can be accessed by users from anywhere and from any device. Enterprises are increasingly embracing this technology for the convenience offered by UC systems.
Several companies these days have started to adopt ‘bring your own device’ or BYOD policies. In the BYOD system, employees can bring their personal device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) to their workplace and use it for professional use. Though implementing BYOD policies has proven to be beneficial for many enterprises, this practice also comes along with certain risks. Moreover, several companies function without formal ‘bring your own device’ policies in place, and many organizations do not educate their employees on the risks associated with BYOD.
The adoption of ‘bring your own device’ implies that, at some point, the organization would incorporate unified communications. BYOD, is thus, one of the primary drivers for the increased incorporation of UC systems. In addition to facilitating better communication, it is essential for unified communications to provide a safe gateway to users. The usage of personal devices for work purposes, however, can compromise on the employees’ privacy and personal data. It thus becomes imperative for enterprises to put effective policies in place, which allows employees to use their own device while still being safeguarded from potential security threats.
For businesses wanting to incorporate these practices, it is first important to consider the pros and cons of BYOD prior to its implementation.
- Offers Reduced Costs:
‘Bring your own device’ policies, by nature, are cost-effective. If employees use their own devices for working, organizations do not have to shell out money for purchasing expensive workstations. The money saved can thus be utilized for other growth areas. Moreover, with BYOD, enterprises do not require to update the devices, and the decision of up-gradation relies completely on the employees.
- Saves Time:
It has been observed that BYOD users consume less time to accomplish tasks, as compared to non-BYOD users. This can be attributed to the users’ familiarity with their own devices, as they do not require training nor have to spend time learning new techniques to effectively operate the system.
- Increases Productivity:
The time saved due to familiarity with one’s own device can be utilized by employees to further learn and polish other skills associated with their job. This results in enhanced productivity, and thereby, increased work satisfaction.
- Increases Flexibility and Employee Engagement:
‘Bring your own device’ policies allow employees to work even from remote locations, thus saving on the time taken for commuting. Besides, robust BYOD-related policies by organizations break down communication barriers and thus lead to better employee engagement.
- Promotes Better Maintenance:
Employees are more likely to take care of the devices they have purchased with their own money. Thus, they would ensure that their laptop, smartphone or tablet is up to date and avoid it from getting damaged.
- Leads to Employee Satisfaction:
Implementing BYOD policies helps employees to choose what kind of device and software they want to use for work. Furthermore, they do not need to work on multiple devices and can keep track of all their activities on a single device. These factors significantly improve employee contentment.
- Threat to Security:
In the BYOD system, employees use the same device for personal and professional purposes. They may access websites that are most likely to bring along malware, which may pose a risk to the device’s safety and sensitive company information. For devices owned by organizations, this issue can be tackled by blocking certain websites or restricting access to them and monitoring employee activity. Installing anti-malware software or using a virtual private network (VPN), in such cases, proves beneficial.
- Non-uniformity in Policies:
One of the issues encountered while implementing BYOD is the lack of planning and ambiguity in policy design. Though the idea of working using one’s own device may be appealing to some, a significant proportion of the employees would also resent the idea. In addition, the employees’ personal devices may not always be suited to the kind of work assigned to them. For instance, a Windows PC is not recommended for graphic designing, which would instead require using a Mac. On the other hand, company-provided devices ensure that the needs of both, the employees and the company itself, are accommodated.
- Data Loss:
The biggest risk associated with BYOD devices is data loss. Sensitive company documents would be lost in case an employee decides to exit from the organization, as they would erase all the company data present on their device. Besides, employees would themselves be apprehensive of granting IT access to their employers, which would result in the company’s loss.
The above-mentioned factors would help enterprises decide whether or not they want to implement BYOD policies. However, it must be noted that, BYOD has more advantages to offer than disadvantages. Besides, there is an increasing trend of using smartphones or tablets in place of traditional desktop computers for business communication, as employees now prefer to work on the go. The growing usage of BYOD is thus expected to increase the popularity of unified communications at enterprise levels.