The Washington Post

Should small business owners embrace or push back against BYOD?

Every other week, On Small Business reaches out to a panel of young entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

Q: Should business owners embrace or push back on the shift toward BYOD? How has your company handled employee devices and what are the risks / benefits you’ve discovered?

Should business owners allow employees to use their own mobile phones and tablets for work? Entrepreneurs weigh in below. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

Raphael Ouzan, CTO and founder of BillGuard in New York, N.Y.

“Powerful and diverse devices are a commodity that have become part of the life of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Even if a company chooses to provide their own enforced devices, it is technically tricky and often counterproductive to deny access to at least company emails from unauthorized personal devices.

Rather than forcing such limitations, companies should provide tools and guidelines adapted to popular devices in order to ensure the protection of its information. Security on mobile devices is somewhat still limited today, but standard procedures such as VPN access, setting up a pin code to access the phone and the ability to remotely wipe a stolen phone is enough to provide a basic ground of protection.

In the close future, we can expect to see more and more innovations significantly improving the level of security on mobile handsets to better accommodate the spread of mobile banking and other types of highly sensitive information stored everyday on our phones.”

Matthew Ackerson, founder of Saber Blast in New York, N.Y.

“Business owners should embrace BYOD because it is a natural, evolutionary change. The proliferation of web technology in mobile devices empowers individuals to always be connected. Trying to force restrictions with the goal of containing this natural urge is swimming against the tide. Business owners should instead embrace this change and find creative ways for this shift to help them grow their businesses.

A common worry that many business owners have here is that their employees are going to slack off all day playing Angry Birds. The truth is, though, there were always opportunities for employees to be lazy, social media is just one of the newest options. On the other hand, the most overlooked benefit to embracing BYOD is that mobile tech allows employees to always be productive on the go. For instance, project management is accelerated when you’re not chained to a desktop computer.

My company, being completely virtual, has no restrictions on the use of smartphones by team members. What matters more to us is (1) are we sticking to our core values as a company and (2) is everyone performing at their peak potential so that company never stops moving forward?”

Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of in Vancouver, Canada

“All our staff uses their own cell phones, but we’ve given everyone from support and marketing to IT a Macbook Pro. We’re open to them using other devices so long as their use is in line with our security policies and procedures. These are not device dependent, and most of our systems are in the cloud, so BYOD is not an issue for us.

Our approach to BYOD means its easier for our staff to address any issues that arise after hours -- this is important to us given the 24-hour nature of our marketplace.”

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.



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