A question of business information ownership has developed now that a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy has swept the corporate world. According to technology analysts Ovum Research, 3 out of 5 employees utilize personal devices for access to company information. What safeguards should companies develop to allow effective BYOD without the risk of losing valuable data when questions of ownership arise?
BYOD For Business
Though every business looks for ways to cut its operating costs, an e-business may need to reduce its budgetary requirements even further than its physical counterpart. Entrepreneur.com claims the cost to a digital business just getting off the ground can run up to $500,000 if the owner needs custom programming for their operations and sales. A BYOD system allows any company, digital or physical, to eliminate much of the costs of purchasing computers, tablets or mobile phones for its employees. Yet corporate research by companies like Cisco suggest its even better for an e-business owner, as the advantages range from a 17 percent boost in productivity to as much as triple an employee’s value per mobile device.
Ownership Of Company Property
The benefits of this employee empowerment program do not come without drawbacks as well — especially for online businesses. According to the U.S. Patent Office, American copyright law dictates that inventions, whether digital or physical, stay the property of their creator, and this creator can exclude any other parties they care to. For this reason, many businesses demand employees sign over copyright or patent claims when they sign a contract to work, but those employees without such clauses in their contracts can possibly claim the right of ownership of anything from an e-company’s new logo graphics to their very landing page.
Even if an e-business signs employees to contracts that state they have no control over intellectual property, all rules go out the window in the event an employee loses their personal device, if the mobile device becomes corrupted or if opportunistic hackers or phishers smell blood. Businesses that supply employees with smartphones can use substantial mobile security measures, including ports for communication and remote memory wipes. BlackBerry offers a comprehensive security feature called BlackBerry Balance, that ensures employee’s they will have some privacy, while also allowing companies to feel at ease. Some security features come standard on smartphones and tablets when a company develops a comprehensive data plan for their employees’ devices. On an employee’s personal device they bring to the office, by contrast, a company has no guarantees of security for intellectual property. This problem becomes exacerbated in the event of theft or hacking.
An e-commerce startup must decide what gives a greater return on their investment: providing employees the keys to their own mobile freedom and risking ownership questions, or investing the resources in mobiles that will always remain company property. Regardless, a strongly worded and unambiguous contract can go a long ways towards providing an e-company with security for their future.