About ten years ago, the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) phenomenon started to appear in organizations. However, there is a practice which is probably much more widespread than BYOD: “Bring Your Own Application” (BYOA). BYOA is the practice of introducing applications to the workplace that are commonly used in private life.
The reason is simple: BYOD requires an active business policy while BYOA is an inevitable phenomenon which one cannot and should not ignore or prohibit. The best reaction is even the exact opposite: Supporting Bring Your Own Application can bring great benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity and innovation. However, to do this successfully, a specific policy is required to protect your business from possible risks in terms of costs, security and loss of information.
Why employees create the Bring Your Own Application trend
The traditional role of an IT team within a company is to propose an application and push it to the end users, obliging them to use it. But it is not uncommon for employees to prefer applications they use in their private lives to those that the company puts at their disposal. Sometimes, it is simply a matter of filling a gap or optimizing their personal organization. And as most applications are now hosted in the cloud and an Internet connection is enough to access them, employees can easily use what they prefer.
Since it is pretty much impossible to ban this phenomenon, a company has every interest to embrace it, demonstrating both openness and control. Admittedly, IT teams will find themselves facing applications on which they have not been trained. But this effect will quickly be offset by the knowledge of the end users.
In addition, prohibiting BYOA is counterproductive. Being afraid of being slapped on their fingers will not prevent employees from following this trend. They will merely do so in a hidden way, exposing the company to security risks as well as additional costs. Moreover, by restricting employees, they will grow frustrated which, in turn, could lead to decreased efficiency. On the contrary, by engaging in a positive and supportive approach, the company has everything to gain.
How to address the challenges and ensure you get all the benefits of Bring Your Own Application
First of all, your company should carry out a tailor-made support program taking employee expectations into account. Then you need to educate them and involve them in the chain of responsibility through training and good internal communication. Everyone needs to understand that, in return for granting the flexibility of using their preferred app, you expect an awareness of the risks BYOA entails.
You should then monitor the applications used in order to identify which ones are most popular among your employees. Then you can reach out to start a partnership or make a group purchase in order to extend the applications’ use to all staff.
This approach should be expanded with guidelines and directories of applications that are allowed or prohibited, depending on the level of security you’re aiming for. Your company should also define an appropriate support policy based on the skills identified internally to support the adoption of the new tools.
By having several solutions for the same service you will avoid getting stuck in case one of these applications is out of service. However, the proliferation of more or less competing collaboration solutions within the company poses another problem: loss of information. It will, therefore, be necessary to ensure that, for instance, messages from management are circulated perfectly at all levels. For this purpose, your company needs to identify a global communication channel.
New ways of working such as teleworking or co-working are driving the “Bring Your Own Application” trend. And, we forget all too often to remember this, the rise of the Cloud in companies was primarily driven by private use as well: a source of obvious progress!