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BYOD — it’s the ultimate acronym of 2013. Short for ‘Bring Your Own Device,’ this approach to technology in the workplace is taking the business world by storm. And don’t expect the BYOD march to slow down anytime soon; a report from “Computer World” suggests that 38 percent of companies are planning a complete switch to BYOD by the end of 2016.

The benefits of BYOD are significant, and may include greater flexibility among employees and overhead savings amounting to $3,150 per employee per year, based on Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, U.S. analysis. The study monitored 2,400 employees in six countries. Time saved varied between four minutes in Germany to 81 minutes in the U.S.

Many companies wanting to start BYOD must maintain secure devices and conquer the digital divide.

Mobile Security

If there’s one huge disadvantage of BYOD, it’s the related issues of security. When the employee’s personal device also happens to be his or her work device, this opens up a multitude of potential security hazards. To ensure absolute security both in and out of the workplace, employers must develop detailed BYOD acceptable use policies. Included in this policy should be standards for third-party use, such as whether family members are allowed to utilize work devices or if extra controls need to be set so as to prevent third-party accessing of private information. BlackBerry MDM has evolved by managing both corporate-owned and personal-owned BYOD devices. But no matter the setup, employees must agree to the tenets set out by acceptable use policies and from there, have all devices designated for use in the workplace registered with the employer.

Even the best acceptable use policy can be neglected. CIO recommends that employers look into such protocols as mandatory encryption and remote data wiping. Such preventative measures should ensure the safety of essential data, even if employees fail to abide by the company’s BYOD policy.

The Workplace Digital Divide

Another concern commonly brought up by the human resources departments of companies examining BYOD is that of the digital divide. Essentially, this concept refers to the growing split between workers able to afford the latest and greatest in technology, and those still limited to their old flip phones and classic iPods. In a BYOD workplace, the categorization of have and have nots becomes abundantly clear. Those of fewer means must either utilize technological accommodations offered by their employer, or embarrass themselves with less-than-impressive devices. Such obvious distinctions between technologically equipped workers and their less fortunate counterparts may ultimately lead to resentment and disharmony in the workplace, translating to lower productivity, a greater incidence of errors and additional problems for management. These issues can be circumvented by offering fleet devices that are nice enough to offset any resentment on the part of technologically impaired employees.

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About the Author. Phoebe Stevens was a financial adviser for one a Wall Street bank until she moved to the suburbs. She has a small clientele base and enjoys sharing what she has learned from them.

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