BYOD poses new challenges for asset managers

BYOD poses new challenges for asset managers

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Oct. 10, 2013

The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has already disrupted traditional enterprise IT procurement and management practices, but when employees bring their own personal mobile phones, tablets and other devices into the office, there are also important end-of-life and asset management implications.

The BYOD movement can mean either the use of a personal device for company business or a company providing an employee a device and allowing personal use on it. Either way, many companies and organizations are tripping over themselves to roll out BYOD programs. According to the market research firm Gartner, 38 percent of employers will stop providing devices to workers by 2016 and half will mandate BYOD by 2017. In many cases, employees report being happier and more productive when using or choosing their own devices to use for their work, and in fact, 53 percent of businesses that have implemented BYOD policies have seen productivity increases of 10 percent or more.

However, since BYOD policies dramatically increase the variety of devices an IT department is responsible for, and since the personal use of devices potentially exposes them to vulnerabilities, vendors contracted to manage devices from a BYOD program should be aware of several issues.

First of all, there are significant data security concerns that arise from BYOD policies. Most devices purchased for personal use by employees and then used for their work were not designed with the same level of security as enterprise-focused devices. Additionally, since employees use their work devices for personal use, there is an increased risk of theft or damage to devices. Of the companies that have implemented BYOD policies, 71 percent believe increased mobile device use has resulted in more security incidents.

To address these concerns, many enterprise IT departments have begun creating secure partitions on BYOD phones, tablets and other devices that contain the company's enterprise software. When those devices are retired, that partition can then be securely wiped. The main concern, however, is that an in-house IT department will simply wipe the data on the company partition, leaving the data on the rest of the device intact. This potentially exposes user data and highlights the need for asset management vendors to engage in data security best practices when they are processing enterprise devices -- regardless of whether they have been labeled as "wiped" or not.

The other primary concern raised by the BYOD trend is the variety of devices that will need to be managed. With the enterprise device mix increasingly resembling the product mix for the consumer electronics waste stream, processors are less likely to see uniform batches of devices from enterprise partners, such as bulk shipments of Lenovo Thinkpad laptops or Blackberry smartphones. This represents an increase in the cost of processing devices, as well as an increase in the technical challenge. Many consumer-focused phones and tablets rank low on repairability and refurbishment ability. Apple products in particular are notorious for having non-uniform screw types and glued-in batteries that inhibit refurbishment.

That aside, the presence of high numbers of consumer devices in the enterprise IT stream represents a significant market opportunity for processors. Consumer devices typically have higher resale values than enterprise devices. The iPhone 4S (Apple's 2011 model), for instance, costs approximately $50 to repair, but refurbished models still retail for between $200 and $300 and are sought after by customers of budget carriers in developed countries, and first-time cell phone buyers in developing markets.

In short, the BYOD trend brings substantial market opportunity to enterprise e-scrap processors that have the technical means of triaging and assessing a wide range of devices quickly and efficiently, have robust data security processes in place, and can refurbish and resell devices cost effectively. For other processors used to dealing with a relatively uniform stream of devices from their enterprise clients, the landscape is rapidly changing and there are many learning lessons that can be taken from processors specializing in consumer e-scrap streams.

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