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What BYOD trends will take hold in the business world?

As employees and organizations come to expect greater mobility, BYOD is an important consideration in the successful planning and execution of the remote and hybrid workplace.

As the BYOD market continues to evolve, enterprise organizations must find the right strategy to enable the corporate use of personal devices.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated BYOD adoption. Many organizations had to take on a BYOD strategy as they sent their employees to work from home, often without enough corporate-owned laptops and smartphones to support their productivity. While security is the biggest concern related to BYOD, IT administrators didn't have time to fully address these problems, resulting in cases of remote work debt that some organizations are just discovering.

With this in mind, IT professionals must understand the future of BYOD in the workplace and key business considerations associated with the use of these devices. Among those factors are the implementation of new security tools and policies for remote access to corporate data, the types of consumer devices and hardware to support, the establishment of a BYOD onboarding process and the costs incurred from instituting these procedures.

How popular is BYOD?

The BYOD trend saw a resurgence in some organizations during the pandemic, as newly remote users had to wait to receive corporate-owned hardware. Even if employees already had a corporate laptop assigned to them, many would use their personal smartphones for some work tasks, thus requiring BYOD management.

New users are now entering the workforce with the expectation of being mobile, and part of that mobility often includes using their own devices instead of corporate-owned devices. BYOD enables more flexibility in how, where and when employees work and collaborate.

Diagram comparing different device ownership scenarios.
BYOD is just one device ownership scenario, but it's the option that gives employees the most control.

8 factors influencing the future of BYOD

There are some advantages and disadvantages that can influence whether organizations decide to implement a BYOD policy. Factors such as the spread of 5G internet access and employee privacy concerns will affect how BYOD might change in the future.

1. More contractors and freelancers accessing corporate assets

As more freelancers and contractors work with organizations, they will need access to client resources and backend systems, and this will be an issue for compliance programs. This reality will force organizations to issue key contractors corporate-owned, personally enabled devices for the duration of their contract. Additionally, more SaaS applications secured by identity access management -- such as Google Workspace, Slack and Notion -- will serve as contractor work platforms.

2. The impact of the smart home

The proliferation of smart home devices is influencing BYOD policies. If employees use smart, connected IoT devices for work, organizations must adapt their BYOD policies to manage these devices alongside traditional ones. For example, an employee could attend a Zoom call using their smart TV, Google Nest Hub Max or Amazon Echo Show.

3. The rise of 5G internet access for the home

There's a growing trend toward 5G internet access among consumers, which could affect BYOD endpoints for remote workers. It opens additional security questions and the possibility that some organizations might equip their BYOD users with internet access at home, ending the need for internet reimbursements.

4. Increasing employee satisfaction with fewer security risks 

About 90% of Americans own a smartphone, according to a 2023 poll from Pew Research Center. Employees know how to use the OSes of their BYOD smartphones, reducing the need for corporate training. They can also customize their experience, resulting in greater employee satisfaction. The challenge for IT is ensuring that corporate data is accessible and secure. Supporting multiple devices with different OSes can be difficult for many IT departments trying to balance BYOD security and user privacy. The future of BYOD includes zero-trust security and building out policies to support device security in this new landscape.

5. Compliance, even when out of sight and out of mind

The blending of work and home life has led to new challenges, such as connectivity to an unsecured network and a lack of security software on personal devices. Growing concern about employees circumventing security measures means IT must reevaluate BYOD policies to balance compliance needs with employee flexibility and privacy.

6. Reducing costs while incurring others

Organizations can save equipment costs by switching from corporate-owned to BYOD smartphones. As a result, it's important to establish just who is responsible for supporting BYOD endpoints, especially cellular data. When using personal devices for work purposes, many employees expect their organizations to pay them a stipend to supplement the cost of data access.

7. Balancing privacy and security 

Many employees worry that IT can see everything on their BYOD smartphones, which is not necessarily the case. Apple and Google have addressed what mobile device management (MDM) tools can and can't see on employee devices.

But what if an employee loses their device? The device is not the organization's responsibility, but the corporate data on that device is. MDM technologies enable IT to remotely wipe away corporate data on devices, and this kind of capability can prompt privacy concerns if users don't know how device visibility works. IT must build transparent policies that educate employees on what activities and device information admins can and can't see on personal devices and how they will use MDM technologies to enforce data security on BYODs.

8. It's not about bringing your own anything 

As many employees continue to work from home, many organizations are finding that they can't support every BYOD endpoint in the same way. Many times, BYOD policies fail because organizations enable their employees to use any and all devices, including outdated Android devices that don't have proper support for modern MDM policies and Windows devices that are running end-of-life OSes such as Windows 7 or Home Editions. BYOD policies need to include the type of devices an organization can support, as varying operating system versions and patch levels can directly threaten corporate security and data control. BYOD policies must also ban jailbroken mobile devices from accessing corporate resources to avoid fragmentation and other security risks.

What BYOD trends are on the horizon?

BYOD will continue to grow as some organizations forgo issuing their employees corporate-owned smartphones. Contractors and freelancers accessing their clients' enterprise services with personal mobile devices will also drive the BYOD trend even further.

BYOD reimbursement policies

BYOD expense reimbursement policies for related data and phone costs will become even more varied. The promise of BYOD expense management seems to have gone by the wayside, especially during the rush to equip newly remote workers. Some organizations just chose to give their employees a blanket stipend or reimbursement for cell phone and internet access -- without measuring how much of their cell phone and broadband usage actually went toward corporate work. Fully remote organizations might include BYOD compensation for their employees as part of home internet reimbursement. Larger organizations, while mandating BYOD as they stop deploying corporate-owned devices, will make employees work through a complicated bureaucracy of expense reimbursements to cover these costs. Lastly, expect some organizations, regardless of size, to no longer offer BYOD reimbursements due to their corporate financial situation.

Broadcom's VMware acquisition

The impact of the Broadcom acquisition of VMware will continue reverberating well into the future of BYOD. Broadcom has already announced that it plans to sell VMware's end-user computing division -- home of Workspace One. This news, in addition to Broadcom increasing VMware licensing fees for current customers, will have those organizations shopping for a new MDM platform. Look for startups such as Fleet to offer organizations an affordable offramp for migrating from Workspace One. Such moves will require a strategy to work with users through the MDM migration process. Some former Workspace One customers will find themselves having to implement more than one MDM as a replacement, which might prompt some rethinking of BYOD support in more budget-conscious organizations.

Bring-your-own-network initiatives

The concept of bring your own network (BYON) is gaining some attention, enabling employees to use their home networks for work. This trend is part of a broader move toward accommodating long-term remote work and managing the associated costs. BYON initiatives help control expenses and minimize the risks that come with employees using their own network providers.

BYON initiatives help control expenses and minimize the risks that come with employees using their own network providers.

BYOD management in the cloud

The cloud will also be crucial to BYOD endpoint management and security in the future. As remote and hybrid workers onboard their devices into a corporate BYOD program, cloud deployment models will enable corporate policies to control security settings and OS and app updates without user intervention. Organizations must use these tools to combat ongoing ransomware threats that target unmanaged and BYOD endpoints.

Zero-trust security principles

The convenience of BYOD can often come at the cost of cybersecurity, as employees might try to bypass or deactivate cybersecurity measures. Adopting a zero-trust security approach in a BYOD environment addresses these challenges. This approach assumes that every access request is unauthorized until proven otherwise. Coupled with principles such as ongoing monitoring, least privilege and multifactor authentication, zero trust aims to enhance security without impeding workflow.

Diversification of work devices

Defining what counts as a device could become more unclear as technologies such as the Apple Vision Pro drop in price and become more accessible to consumers. For example, Jamf has announced full support for the Vision Pro in its MDM platform. MDM and mobile security vendors -- not users -- will drive this future trend, with only niche use cases serving as the justification for the support.

AI on user devices

BYOD's future can't escape AI, either. ChatGPT is available to consumers on both iOS and Android, and mobile email apps such as Spark Mail also integrate AI features. AI on BYOD endpoints is certain to raise privacy and security concerns over corporate data, so look for MDM vendors to start taking positions in the future about AI apps on the BYOD endpoints they protect.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2021 and was updated in 2024 to improve the reader experience.

Will Kelly is a technology writer, content strategist and marketer. He has written extensively about the cloud, DevOps and enterprise mobility for industry publications and corporate clients and worked on teams introducing DevOps and cloud computing into commercial and public sector enterprises.

Reda Chouffani runs the consulting practice he co-founded, Biz Technology Solutions, Inc. He is a healthcare informatics consultant, cloud expert and a business intelligence architect who helps enterprise clients make the best use of technology to streamline operations and improve productivity.

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