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Costly BYON Complicates BYOD Movement, Survey Says

If you have a laptop, smartphone, or tablet, you are a mobile worker. It is forcing you to stay connected, work longer hours--and sometimes get stuck with bigger phone bills. A survey conducted by iPass, the world's largest commercial Wi-Fi network, says the bring-your-own-device and bring-your-own-network movements are here to stay.

In case you hadn't heard, mobile phones are turning us into workaholics. Unable to unplug during our time off, we end up working longer hours. But as a whole, instead of being stuck in cubicles, we enjoy our mobility.

Unfortunately, IT policies haven't kept up with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Some IT departments haven't figured out, for instance, how to get remote wipe onto smart phones, and that is the most basic form of security. According to a new study by iPass, the world's largest commercial Wi-Fi network, 55% of mobile workers said they had remote wipe on their smartphone--and even fewer tablets have it.

Now the related trend of bring-your-own-network--BYON--in which workers use their personal devices on various non-vetted networks, is giving IT new headaches. Not only does it affect a company's security, BYON can hit employees with exorbitant roaming charges if they're not careful.

iPass surveyed 1,200 mobile workers of global enterprises about the benefits and challenges of the BYON and BYOD. Respondents said that having more flexibility makes them work more. In fact, they work 20 hours more a week online because they can check in during family and personal time.

On the plus side, employees like BYOD because it allows them to use their personal phones for work. Unfortunately for companies, as the chart below shows, some employees think they have control over their corporate IT rules.

BYON poses its own challenges, according to the report. Nearly half the respondents said that data roaming bills were expensive. To avoid outrageous bills, workers use Wi-Fi when they can, especially when using video chat. But fear of big phone bills is preventing some mobile workers from using basic productivity apps such as email and Web browsing. This obviously is bad for productivity as a whole.

So what should IT departments do? To ensure data security and protect against data loss, passwords and remote wipe features are a must. Workers should be reminded to use Wi-Fi whenever possible to reduce data roaming charges--especially if the company is footing the bill. As an alternative to roaming charges, companies might look into a global Wi-Fi plan.

According to iPass, 86% of mobile workers think their companies should pay for their domestic and international charges.

"The trends shaping the mobile workplace--BYOD, data roaming bills, soaring data use--show no signs of subsiding," concluded the iPass study.

That means companies must look at the cost of mobility versus total connectivity--and decide it they are willing to foot the bill to keep their mobile workforces moving.

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