According to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61 percent of Americans own a smartphone. Employers need to pay attention to this number. Ownership of smartphones has reached a critical mass in our society.
Given the proliferation of these devices, it makes sense that employees are bringing them to work, whether employers permit it or not. According to another recent survey, conducted by analyst house Ovum [h/t: ZD Net], 56.8 percent of employees use personal devices at work. Seventy percent of those employees who use personal devices at work are using a smartphone, and of those smartphone-owning employees, more than one-third bring them to work either without the knowledge of their IT department, or in spite of an outright corporate ban on personal devices in the workplace.
These numbers mean that a Bring Your Own Device program is no longer an option, but should be required. If employees are going to bring personal devices into the workplace, and use them to connect to your network, you need to deploy reasonable policies to govern their use and protect your network and security, instead of ignoring the issue or instituting prohibitions that employees will ignore anyway.
To put it another way, consider this thought from Adrian Drury, practice leader for consumer impact IT with Ovum, as quoted by ZD Net, “If you take the King Canute approach and try and drive that behaviour underground you just lose control of it.” Regain the control you need by rolling out a BYOD program.
If you are considering implementing a BYOD program, start with these posts from the archives to gain some background on the issues you should be thinking about:
My latest book — The Employer Bill of Rights: A Manager’s Guide to Workplace Law — also contains a sample BYOD policy for you to consider.