We've reached a point in the business world where the technology that has been sufficient for the past 20 years is impeding growth. Desktop computers naturally gave way to laptops as employees sought greater mobility. Then the rise of the BlackBerry gave us the first hint of the direction the working world was headed. However, as recent financial disclosures suggest, the popularity of the company is waning. The cumbersome nature of built-in keyboards on cellphones has propelled the use of touchscreen technology, allowing users greater manual dexterity.
While the trajectory has been far from linear, the path toward the age of mobile devices has been swift. You've likely noticed that most employees bring their personal devices to work. According to the information technology research firm IDC, fourth-quarter shipments projections put the tablet ahead of personal computers. Moreover, the number of tablets shipped annually is predicted to outpace PCs for the entirety of 2015. This research goes hand in hand with the fact that prices of mobile devices continue to fall. What's more, consumers have developed an appetite for all things mobile.
Tablet Use Skyrocketing
Spanning the next four years, tablet use is expected to grow at a rate of nearly 80 percent. This outpaces smartphones. Consumers are drawn to these devices as an answer to all demands for an electronic device that integrates increasingly powerful apps and computing services. What this means for businesses is that they are embracing a 'bring your own device' culture in the workplace. Granted, developing a BYOD policy requires considerable forethought. The first issue that companies must overcome to successfully bridge the mobility gap is to involve the IT department in mapping out a way forward.
Your company likely already has an IT agreement that all employees are expected to follow. According to CIO, it is essential for employees to clearly understand the connection between using their personal device for work and following existing company policies, such as non-compete agreements and nondisclosure contracts. Many organizations own the intellectual property their employees produce, but the temptation to share data likely increases if employees use their own smartphone or tablet.
What Small-Business Owners Need to Consider
There's no question that small enterprises are concerned about cyber security. In fact, The National Small Business Association recently released the "2013 Small Business Technology Survey," which indicated 94 percent of SMB owners are worried about falling prey to a cyber attack.
Protecting data is a priority for most organizations and the influx of personal mobile devices can put you at risk for information being compromised. NSBA Chair David Ickert explained 25 percent of respondents have a patent on a specific product or service. Here's what to do:
- It's important to make it starkly clear that all personal devices can be searched if foul play is suspected. Of course, an employer must have a qualified reason to search a smartphone or tablet. Another route that many organizations have taken is outlining exactly what kind of content is accessible through their personal devices.
- Define what is strictly pertinent for your employees to perform their job. Unless you work for Mark Zuckerberg, checking your news feed on Facebook probably falls outside of your job description. As a result, make it clear that email, shared businesses documents accessible through your company's cloud, and any proprietary software are the only resources your employees are using.
- Finally, it's crucial for your employees to understand the benefit of passwords to protect content on their devices. A Coalfire survey investigating the security risks of BYOD policies and indicated 47 percent of employees have no form of password protection on their mobile device. What's more, 86 percent of respondents use their smartphone for both work and personal tasks. Without a doubt, employees must be trained on creating effective passcodes to ensure the BYOD strategy is incorporated safely into everyday operations.