Sometimes it seems that if users had their way, your company’s wireless policy would be all of two words long: “Anything goes.” They feel they should be able to use their devices — any device they choose — anytime they want, anyway they want, without an overbearing IT department slowing them down.
Fortunately, you know better. Your carefully-crafted wireless policy serves several important roles:
- It prevents cost overages from roaming charges and ignored data allowances.
- It secures your company’s valuable data by preventing unauthorized access or sharing.
- It keeps the use of company technology and data within the oversight of the experts — you and your team.
But the employee clamor for increased mobile freedom is getting louder and louder. IT departments that ignore the call for flexible BYOD policies do so at their own peril. Already, IT is seen by the majority of corporate users as a nonessential department.
Your corporate wireless policy can be your ticket back to the employees’ good graces. How can you put together a wireless policy that enables users rather than limits them? And how can you do it without sacrificing the important things you care about: efficiency, security, and cost?
Here are a few pointers:
Include a Strong Security Policy
Sure, entering a password every time you wake up your phone is a hassle. And remembering a complex password — and changing it regularly — is a pain in the neck. But your company’s data is among its most valuable assets.
The average cost of a single data breach is $4 million, according to IBM’s annual report. If employees are going to be allowed to use their own devices, a few extra swipes and another memorized password are small prices to pay. Before you allow BYOD devices on your network, require that they be configured to the same security standards as corporate-liable devices.
This is the approach Accenture takes to secure the nearly 100,000 employee-owned devices used across the company:
“These devices are secured via eight-digit passwords with strict mandatory guidelines for device lock and remote wipe, if necessary.”
Decide Who Will Do the Support
One of the reasons smaller IT departments resist the rise of BYOD is they already have enough work on their hands; they’re not about to sign-off on providing support for hundreds or thousands more employee-owned devices, spanning the range of device types and operating systems.
So don’t. If you read our sample wireless policy, you’ll see it asks users to sign a statement saying, “No further support from IT will be provided for personally owned devices.”
One of the advantages of BYOD is it puts support in the hands of users. But that doesn’t mean you can’t provide some resources to help them find the answers they seek.
At Accenture, for example, the IT team has set up online support forums, where users can compare notes and help each other with their personal devices.
“If that does not work, then take it back to the guy you bought it from,” said Accenture IT pro Bill Hub.
Give the Policy ‘Teeth’
You know from experience: Give corporate users an inch and they’ll take a foot. A wireless policy is only as good as your ability to enforce it. Unfortunately, with limited resources and no visibility into how employees are using their devices, the most thoughtfully-constructed wireless policy can quickly descend into the honor system.
A managed mobility services provider can help give your wireless policy some bite to go with its bark.
At Wireless Analytics, for example, we show our users (and their managers) how much data they’ve used over each month. More often than not, when they see how egregiously they’ve exceeded their allowances, they’re shocked back into compliance — especially when they know they’re being watched.
Share Your Ideas for a Wireless Policy That Enables Users
What would you include in your corporate wireless policy to give your users the freedom they want without endangering your company’s data security or budget? Share your tips in the comments section below.
If you need help getting started with your own wireless policy, access a free sample policy here.