BYOD—Lessons from China

One of the current hot button issues in business today is BYOD (bring your own device). There is great debate over whether this is the wave of the future or if there are just too many problems with the idea to make it work successfully. While this concept is just emerging in the United States, in China, BYOD is the norm. There’s a lot that we can learn from how they’ve successfully incorporated it into their corporations.

The Popularity

In China, mobile phones aren’t just a necessity; they’re a fashion statement. While in the United States most mobile phone owners wait until their contract is up to upgrade to the newest model, in China, young professionals are eager for the latest and greatest phones and are prepared to pay full price. These businesspeople don’t want to carry around a clunky old business phone in addition to their newest, sleek smartphone. This is what inspired the BYOD craze.

Benefits

The benefits of BYOD are two-fold. Many businesspeople are more comfortable with their own devices, plus it’s convenient to use one device for both business and professional use instead of dragging around multiple phones. For the corporations themselves, there’s a large amount of money saved by not having to purchase phones for staff members. Even base-model phones are expensive, and employees are less likely to take care of the phones they didn’t pay for themselves, especially if they’re outdated.

Drawbacks

Many corporations feel that the Android and iOS platforms are too sensitive and fragmented to use for corporate information. While both systems are working and fixing these security issues, it’s still too early to tell whether these would be good options for information that requires the upmost in security. Additionally, the current hot phones are changing on nearly a daily bases—more so in China than in the United States—so this makes it difficult for technical support staff members to keep up with what is going on with the applications that businesspeople use on a daily basis. This could lead to more downtime for workers.

Advice

There are a myriad of ways to make BYOD more secure for businesses. There are more programs out there for encryption and data protection than ever. Requiring employees to utilize these applications can protect the sensitive data from prying eyes. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) may be a good solution for companies large enough to benefit from the concept. When it comes to data loss, a cloud storage program will make sure data isn’t compromised because of a phone or platform failure. Taking simple precautions may be all that’s necessary for most company data.

BYOD is still a very new concept for American business. However, those corporations that are willing to make adjustments and look at ways to balance the benefits with the drawbacks will find that it can be a great way to add to employee satisfaction and also improve the company’s bottom line.