The BYOD trend that came (and went) full circle

Simon Howitt, Chairman, InTec Business Solutions

In August 2008, Facebook hit 100 million users and it was safe to say social media wasn’t just a passing phase, but rather a new way of life and an established platform for social communication, integration and collaboration. Coupled with the increasing consumer uptake in smartphone technology, employers found themselves faced with a tech-savvy workforce – with supercomputers in their back pockets and the expectation of being online anytime, anywhere.

Businesses had to react and the trend we now know as Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) was born.

BYOD enabled employers to capitalise on the fact that most employees had home computer and mobile technology far more powerful and up-to-date than anything the average IT department could offer. There was a clear cost benefit to companies in not having to put a kit in people’s hands or take out tariffs on their behalf. And users were happy with this arrangement, as for the first time they were ‘allowed’ to use the latest gadgets at work – no one wants to have high-speed 3G tech in their personal life and have to resort to a ‘brick’ at work.

But (and there’s always a but…) allowing individuals to use their personal devices in the office wasn’t without risk, in terms of both data protection and cyber security. BYOD needed managing and enforcing in a considered and compliant manner. Easier said than done.

In January 2013, Virgin Media Business warned companies about the importance of implementing “clear policies on the use of personal devices at work”, following research by 500 leading UK Information Officers that found 51% of business networks had been compromised by the BYOD trend the year before. COO Tony Grace said: “With just a fifth of large firms having a BYOD policy, businesses will continue to experience security breaches until connectivity, security and user policies are put in place.” But despite the concerns, BYOD looked set to be a key tech trend in the workplace, in much the same way that social networking had shaped the consumer tech landscape the decade before.

Fast forward to 2017. Although BYOD still exists and most businesses offer employers some of the predicted perks – remote log-in, office Wi-Fi, webmail and access to unified communications – BYOD certainly hasn’t taken off in the way many analysts and CIOs predicted.

Why? Like most things tech, the answer lies in the cloud.

With the increasing adoption of cloud services and the uptake of applications like Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint, the gateway to business information has become too wide. Even the most iron-clad security policies don’t equate to zero risk, when it comes to company data being accessed on non-company kit. And in the age of WikiLeaks, cyber security is king.

What’s more, the cost of smartphones and internet-enabled devices has fallen dramatically. It’s no longer prohibitively expensive to give employers the proper tools to do their jobs in the first place.

So for IT departments everywhere, the BYOD ‘trend’ seems to have come full circle. And as the disparity between personal and business tech diminishes, so too does the need to let the average-Joe ‘bring their own device’. So while Facebook may be here to stay, CIOs are putting BYOD policies in the shredder.

Simon Howitt, MD at inTec Business Solutions, says: “increasing attention on security levels is the main reason we’re now seeing more businesses avoid BYOD altogether. However, a significant number of cloud-based business applications are now available which enable businesses to maintain total control of devices, while still allowing employees access to business sensitive information on the go.

“It’s about giving people the tools to operate more efficiently and at the same time protecting the business, so data is secure anytime, anywhere.”

At inTec Business Solutions – we help businesses to get the most out of the technology they provide to their business users. With access to industry experts, offering end-to-end tech consultancy, implementation and support services, you get solutions that can improve the way you work.

inTec offers a range of business applications to enable employees to work from home, in the office or on the go. We work with your teams end-to-end, providing mobile devices or working with your existing kit, to ensure your team gets the right applications on the right kit, with access to the tech support they need.

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