Exploring BYOD success in Business and Education

Discovering BYOD Schemes

Bring your own Device (BYOD) programmes are an increasingly popular approach in both education and commercial sectors, with the majority of organisations having at least a BYOD-friendly policy.

Essentially, BYOD policies allow students and employees to bring in personally-owned electronic devices, typically smartphones and tablets, connect to the organisation’s network, and use the devices to supplement work and learning.

While there’s a lot of different approaches to BYOD policies, an increasing number of organisations have some form of policy in place. However, even with the wide-scale implementation of BYOD, there’s often a question as to the effectiveness - and appropriateness - of the policies, with many concerned that the policies can have some form of negative effect.

We’ve put together this piece to take a look at the facts around the effectiveness of BYOD in both business and education, collating findings from a range of studies.

Initially, it’s worth pointing out that there are some common issues with bringing in BYOD - while most of them can be resolved without too much trouble, it’s worth discussing them:

Appropriate use: One of the most commonly-raised issues with BYOD policies is the potential for misuse - it’s easy to imagine how devices could be used for cyberbullying, accessing inappropriate content, wasting time, and far more. It’s fundamentally important to have some kind of established, effective policy in place for how devices can be used - monitoring services like NetSupport DNA can be useful in ensuring propriety.

Keeping networks secure: Adding personal devices to a network can create a significant cybersecurity risk, increasing the risk of malware infecting your network, while also posing a risk for data privacy. We’d recommend taking a look through some cybersecurity guidance relating to BYOD - the NCSC’s Executive Summary and this article from CoxBlue cover a number of important areas.

Accommodating for devices: Introducing a BYOD policy means adding a huge number of extra devices to your network, which can significantly strain available bandwidth - a particularly big problem for schools and SMEs, working with relatively tight tech budgets.

With the range of utilities for BYOD policies being significantly different for businesses and schools, we’ve broken down the rest of this piece to take a look at how BYOD policies are working out in each sector:

## BYOD Effectiveness for Businesses

BYOD adoption is particularly high for businesses - while it’s difficult to pin down exact statistics, it’s estimated that roughly three quarters of businesses have, or are planning to adopt, a BYOD-friendly policy (according to a recent study from Tech Pro Research), as shown on the graph below.

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While individual businesses see different effects from introducing BYOD, there’s little doubt that policies typically have a significant, positive economic effect. A study on the Financial Impact of BYOD commissioned by Cisco in 2013 indicated that the average UK employee using BYOD saved 51 minutes of work per week - roughly a week’s worth of work every year, a particularly important point to note given the easily-identifiable potential for time-wasting that BYOD involves. The survey does note that about 10% of users end up losing time due to BYOD, but it’s apparent that the benefits ultimately tip the scales here.

Another important takeaway from this study is the sheer popularity of BYOD with employees - a full 49% of users preferred BYOD to corporate provisioning (with 21% indicating no preference), likely a major factor in the improved performance reported.

Cybersecurity is a major concern for practically every modern business, and, as we’ve said, BYOD policies are often considered worryingly insecure - the Tech Pro study linked above saw a full 78% of businesses not using BYOD pointing to security concerns as a reason for their not adopting permissive policies. As such, it’s reasonable to discuss the actual statistics around BYOD cybersecurity.

In 2016, a member survey from Information Security, a popular LinkedIn group for cybersecurity, found that 21% of organisations experienced a data breach through a BYOD device, while a Tenable study claimed that a full 39% of respondents had seen malware downloaded onto a BYOD device - with a further 35% unsure whether devices had been infected.

It’s quite clear that BYOD policies can be a problem when it comes to cybersecurity - however, it’s possible to significantly reduce the possible dangers. Along with the information we linked in the introduction, we’d recommend reviewing this guide to protecting data in a BYOD-friendly environment from the Information Commissioner’s Office, and follow its advice - particularly when it comes to introducing a clear BYOD policy.

BYOD Schemes in Schools and Academies

For schools, BYOD can represent a major opportunity, giving students the chance to develop their understanding of important topics outside of the classroom, enabling flipped learning approaches, while often presenting some opportunities to cut down certain costs to meet decreasing budgets. As such, there’s been quite a take-up for BYOD across education, with a full 71% of primary, and 76% of secondary schools using tablet schemes of some kind, according to BESA’s ICT in UK State Schools Report for 2015.

The most pressing concern for most schools considering BYOD policies is the safety of their students, with cyberbullying and the Prevent Duty both weighing heavily on the minds of most educators. While it’s obvious how BYOD schemes can potentially reinforce these problems, it’s important to understand that an effective IT policy, applied to any devices brought in, can cut the problems down hugely - a lot of content filtering and safeguarding services can function on tablets and smartphones connected to a network. This gives staff the chance to keep an eye on how students are using their devices, identifying and minimising any problems along these lines.

BYOD schemes can, unfortunately, pose something of an economic issue. While the majority of students in the UK have access to a tablet, requiring students to bring in technology can highlight disparities between student incomes - hardly the most welcoming environment for learners. As such, we’d absolutely advise schools considering BYOD programmes to consider this when planning out their approach to BYOD.

Beyond this, as an ISP working with thousands of schools, we’re particularly aware of the problems many schools currently face with their Internet connectivity services - high prices and low speeds mean that a lot of school networks simply don’t have the capacity to support a BYOD programme (according to BESA-funded research, in 2015, only about 52% of schools believed their connectivity was sufficient for hosting a tablet scheme).

We’ve been working to cut the costs and improve service for schools, letting them take advantage of tech opportunities for over a decade - get in touch at 0345 145 1234 to find out about potential savings and benefits!