David Abbou

BYOD programs are meant to release the shackles and give employees the freedom and flexibility to use their preferred devices and collaborate with their colleagues using the apps they are most comfortable with. There’s no doubt that the profound benefits, including improved workflow and productivity, are highly valued by organizations. But passion without structure can lead to chaos. Enter Shadow IT, where employees turn to consumer apps and cloud storage services that are not approved by their organization. There are several major issues that this causes, but not all enterprises have prioritized educating their employees about this topic from the start.

Businesses should engage their employees and find out which enterprise apps and programs are most in demand in order to fulfill particular functions. This will inform them as to which apps to make available and which policies need to be communicated when it comes to collaborating information. It also increases employee satisfaction by involving them in the process and showing that the tools being selected are driven by their feedback.

On the flipside, once these tools are rolled out, employees need to understand why they should stick to the apps provided. A major aspect of this is proactively educating users on the dangers of circumventing BYOD policies and using unapproved solutions that are not sufficiently secure to house sensitive corporate data. For example, many employees have turned to file-syncing apps like Dropbox as an easy and convenient way to store work documents for later use.

There are clear and immediate issues with doing this that can be communicated to employees, and these messages should be included in the on-boarding process as well as updates delivered periodically, as part of a mobile communications policy. It’s important you effectively convey these messages to your employees:

Using unapproved consumer apps and cloud storage solutions undermines your company’s security.

Your organization’s ability to monitor and control the data – and most importantly to apply sufficient security – is largely compromised when people ignore or go around BYOD policies. Consumerized apps do not guarantee the same level of security, making corporate files more prone to hackers, Trojans and other malware that can nab sensitive data. There are many industries including banking, finance, healthcare, pharma and education where security violations go beyond financial and reputational loss; they break legislated industry governance which can lead to crippling fines and even criminal penalties in certain cases. Taking these types of risks is a red line that your company can’t afford to cross, and you need your employees to be aware of these implications.

If you’re not collaborating with the same tools, you and your co-workers are literally not on the same page!

Inconsistent use of consumerized apps only ends up making work life more difficult for employees. The result is a free-for-all, or “every man for himself” culture. This is the exact opposite of what BYOD is supposed to achieve. If colleagues are using different platforms to enter information that needs to be collaborated, then it often isn’t collaborated at all. You have information sitting on different tools, as well as different document versions floating around which can cause confusion, waste precious time and increase stress for everyone involved.

Enterprise apps are being developed with their feedback at heart.

Evaluate apps and gather feedback to measure how well they meet employee needs and identify areas for improvement. Set up a phased schedule to audit the effectiveness of your enterprise apps and measure employee engagement and usage. Survey employees by department and function as to how well the apps made available are meeting their needs, and give them an avenue to air out any flaws or issues that exist. If employees are going outside of approved apps to perform similar functions, there’s a good chance it’s because you need to tweak existing enterprise apps or possibly consider a different offering altogether.