It’s safe to say that nearly all of your employees carry a mobile device with them everywhere they go. And whether it’s officially tolerated by your company or not, you can be sure many of them are using their devices to do work.
Here are the stats to back that up:
- The number of mobile devices managed globally at the enterprise level jumped 72 percent in just one year. (According to a Citrix report.)
- The average enterprise employee uses three or more devices daily for work activities. (Again, from Citrix.)
- 72 percent of companies polled for a Tech Pro research report said they allow employees to use their own devices for work (bring-your-own-device or BYOD) or plan to in the near future.
- 40 percent of U.S. employees of large companies say they use their personal devices for work — whether their employers are aware of it or not. (According to Gartner.)
Between company-owned and BYOD devices, that’s a lot of corporate data whizzing through wireless networks. That’s a lot of critical information stored on small, easily-misplaced devices. When your company is footing the bill for all those carrier plans, that’s also a lot of opportunities for misuse.
Yet, from our own experience, about 30 percent of companies have no wireless policy whatsoever. And most that do could stand to strengthen it. For example, as SC Magazine reported recently, only 39 percent of companies have a formal BYOD policy.
A wireless policy is a document that details the rules corporate users must follow when using company wireless devices or accessing company data on their own devices. With all those mobile devices in play — many of which you may not know about — here’s what could go wrong if you don’t have a wireless policy.
Disaster 1: Out-of-Control Overages
We’ve seen users blow past their data allowances in a single business trip, running up charges in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the number of your employees who take their devices with them on the road and you’re looking at a budget crisis just waiting to happen.
More often than not, users don’t realize how costly their data habits are. It may not occur to them, for example, that using their devices overseas costs your company more than using them domestically. They may not grasp that streaming a Netflix video over a cellular network is not the same as streaming it at home.
Your corporate wireless policy should clearly state what users can and cannot access with their devices and where they can use them. Checking email is fine, for example. Streaming YouTube — not so much.
Disaster 2: Data On the Loose
- They can become infected with malware.
- They can be lost or stolen.
- They can transmit data through an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot.
Your wireless policy is your first line of defence against a data breach. It should include the security measures you require on every device used to access company data — corporate-liable and BYOD — including what to do if the device is lost or stolen.
Disaster 3: Productivity Plummets
The whole reason your company issues mobile devices or allows employees to use their own is to increase productivity. According to some studies, mobile devices allow employees to work up to the equivalent of an extra day per week.
But with their many distractions, mobile devices can get in the way of work, as well. It’s hard for users to resist the allure of Facebook and Candy Crush.
A good wireless policy will instruct your users to see their devices as tools, not toys. It will prescribe exactly what apps they’re allowed to install on their devices and which ones are off limits.
Create a Wireless Policy for Your Company
What are the most important elements of your company’s wireless policy? Share your tips in the comments section below.
If your company doesn’t have a wireless policy, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Three Questions Your Wireless Device Policy Needs to Answer
- 3 Must-Haves for Your Company’s Wireless Policy