Corporate wireless policies traditionally have focused on expense management, a practice we have obviously come to know quite well.  But with the proliferation of consumer electronics and the vast array of (very expensive) products that have come to market in recent years, corporate IT departments are moving too slowly to keep up with the needs of employees who want to use those devices to integrate with corporate networks and enhance their productivity.  This trend is forcing many corporations to move to a Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD) policy when it comes to smartphones, tablets and other wireless productivity devices.

While there are obvious financial advantages to a BYOD policy, since the company can avoid the purchase cost altogether or else limit the reimbursement to employees, the policy can cause serious headaches for overworked IT departments.  Since most users will still expect IT support for their network-connected devices, IT departments have to comes to grips with a multitude of operating systems, including iOS, WebOS, Blackberry, several flavors of Android, and even a proliferation of handset-makers’ proprietary systems like Samsung’s BADA platform.  A fully open BYOD policy can stretch the resources of even the biggest IT departments.

Secondly, lax mobile device security can pose a real threat to secure corporate networks, exposing the corporation to a host of security issues like viruses and trojan horses that had been successfully locked out in the standardized PC environment.  In addition to traditional threats, users who keep proprietary information, contact lists, and other secure data on these “personal” devices risk exposure of corporate secrets if the devices are lost or stolen.  The IT department needs to adopt strong password enforcement and a process for “wiping” lost or stolen devices to prevent these potential disasters.

Finally, the newer connected devices are heavily integrated with Social Media.  While many companies have adopted social media into their marketing strategies, companies adopting a BYOD policy need some sort of well-defined policy for the use of social media in the workplace to avoid productivity and employment issues going forward.

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