Office 365 continues to be the leading platform for most Small Business IT environments in Australia, but as a hybrid cloud technology how does Office 365 sit with other mega trends in IT such as BYOD & Mobility?
BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a term created by Intel in 2009 to indicate the growing trend of employees utilizing their personal devices in their work environment. While employees have been bringing their phones to work with, it wasn’t a big concern until personal devices like tablets and Smartphones started to be used by employees for business critical tasks.
BYOD is actually great for most small businesses owners, as they don’t need to invest in the latest technology as the devices are owned and upgraded by the employee. Employees tend to look after their own equipment much better than a company asset as they are using something they love and understand, be it an iPhone or Android, each person seems to have their own preference.
It is estimated that employees gain 45 to 60 minutes of productivity per week simply by having the anytime, anywhere access offered by their personal devices. Office 365 is built to allow this type of access from multiple devices with remote access.
So letting your employees use their own devices & get access to company information from anywhere at any time can be great for the business, but what are the key benefits &risks?
Office 365 on BYOD benefits
Each Office 365 licence can be deployed on up to 5 PC/Mac devices, plus up to 5 Smartphone Devices (iPhone or Android), or tablets (iPad or Android), so each employee can have synced access to hosted Outlook email, Word, Excel, & Powerpoint giving a single view & same feel from any device, anywhere.
- True mobility & flexibility for the user - Once the Office 365 account has been correctly provisioned & setup the downloading onto further devices is relatively simply using the Microsoft user account.
- Centralised Control - Office 365 as a hosted application is administered centrally so that access & profiles can be administered from a central panel rather individually on each device, this makes centralized control & management far easier than software being deployed individually & setup on each device.
- Linked Accounts – Office 365 uses server functionality to allow users to get all the benefits that was originally the domain of the on premise Small Business Server such as shared calendaring, shared inboxes, files sharing, & distribution lists.
- Employee Paid – in many cases most companies now just provide mobile plans with calls & data allowance to employees, so no need for company handset contracts or tracking mobile assets.
Office 365 on BYOD risks
While the business owner can rejoice at the large savings in technology spending and the dramatic increase in productivity, these benefits do come with risk. Allowing your employees to openly access your business network environment opens up many potential risks such as;
- External Threats - Employee exposure to external threats such as Viruses & Malware that could threaten your business IT environment.
- Security - Every device can be lost that is not properly secured becomes a potential doorway for hackers and data thieves.
- Employee Confidentiality - When an employee leaves your company, they can possess a lot of confidential and important information that your business can no longer access or control
How does Office 365 & Professional IT management mitigate these risks?
External threats still exist on the individual level (due mainly to individuals behavior) and we would always recommend that individual devices are protected using Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware products with backups to minimize frontline attacks, in addition Office 365 is managed in the Australian Microsoft data centre with enterprise grade security protect so it offers a second line of defense and backup. This also means that hackers & data thieves are dealing with 24/7 monitoring with enterprise grade detection & protection in the data centre.
Breach of employee confidentiality is probably the biggest threat to your business, with Office 365 the admin control panel is built to manage access from multiple devices. User access can be managed centrally so should an employee leave, passwords and access can be instantly shutoff. If a user loses a device, the software on the device & any company data can be removed using the centralized control panel.
Ultimately the centralized admin function of Office 365 is key to managing BYOD and mobility ensuring you keep your business IT environment protected.
How to embrace Office 365, BYOD and Mobility?
In reality over 53% of businesses in the US now allow BYOD for company business IT environments, so it is more than a trend, it is a reality. While large businesses can afford teams of IT specialists to manage this complexity what do small business do?
We of course would recommend talking to an expert like Computer Troubleshooters who understand these complexities & can help you setup an IT environment to suit your business. Office 365 is an affordable alternative for smaller businesses who want the flexibility of BYOD and Mobility with the functionality of a Small Business Server, however the Office 365 environment still should be professionally setup and administered to protect against threats.
If you would like to learn more, contact your local Computer Troubleshooters office and request that one of their technology professionals meet with you to assess your risks and discuss your options for keeping your business safe.