We are entering unchartered territory when it comes to surveillance because of information broadcast from our smartphones even when they're off. Right now, it's the NSA collecting this data, but as computing power gets ever cheaper, it could be your local police or even the store you just entered.
BYOD is A-OK, but FYI ...
Before recently joining ITworld, on the final day at my previous job, the local head of IT recommended that I delete the corporate email account on my personal iPhone before I left; otherwise, IT would wipe the phone if they noticed my device trying to access Exchange.
Needless to say, I immediately deleted the account, packed up my remaining stash of snack foods, coffee mugs and loose change, and left the office for good.
That little exchange (painlessly) brought home one of the cons of BYOD for the employee: you’re not the master of your own (device) domain.
Generally, I’m a big fan of BYOD. I prefer to pick out my own smartphone, and to use it how I please, while still accessing work email, calling into meetings, or entering the office March Madness pool when I’m working remotely. These are all benefits that I value, in addition to medical, 401k and free office coffee.
Alright, so one cost of that benefit is that someone has the ability to wipe my phone without my OK. Not great (or likely) but I back it up regularly, so, as my kids say, whatevs.
But there’s another potential downside to BYOD for employees, one which can hurt quite a bit in that most delicate of places: your wallet.
Couple of years back, I was in New Orleans to speak at a conference. One night, as a coworker and I roamed a crowded Bourbon Street, I took out my iPhone 3Gs to take a picture (totally SFW, I assure you and my wife) and it was promptly snatched out of my hand by a guy already in a full sprint. Quicker than you could say “What dat?” the guy and my beloved device were lost in a sea of sweaty people.
Shortly after returning home (bummed out) I bought a new iPhone. Back in the office, while filling out my expense report for the trip, I asked our office manager where I should list the cost of the replacement iPhone. Ha ha!
She didn’t look amused and they didn't foot any of the bill.
The lesson here? Well, aside from the one I learned about being more careful with my smartphone in the middle of a block party, is that BYOD also means RYODWILOIS (Replace Your Own Device When It’s Lost or Stolen). One more downside to BYOD for the employee.
Obviously, this isn't the best example. The phone was stolen when I was on my own time, doing my own thing (and doing it carelessly). But, on the other hand, I was there for business and I was using the phone during the trip for work related purposes. Let’s tweak the scenario a bit.
Suppose the phone was pick-pocketed in the hotel during the conference? Suppose a fellow attendee spilled water on my phone? Would my company have paid for a replacement phone then? As they say here in Boston, “I daaaht it.”
All in all I’d say that BYOD is a good thing but BYODer beware and keep a solid grip on your smartphone in crowds - and if you’re ever in the Crescent City, try the beignets!
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