Is BYOD advisable for technical support outsourcing firms?

Is BYOD advisable for technical support outsourcing firms?

March 19, 2014

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Opinions are divided in the debate of whether or not the BYOD (bring your own device) setting is advisable for technical support outsourcing firms. MarketsandMarkets, for one, sees the BYOD trend to reach the $181.39-billion worth by 2017. Gartner also agrees that there’s no stopping the trend from invading workplaces, but its benefits will bring security challenges along.
So, between the benefits and disadvantages, which would weigh more in the call center setup? Before we answer let’s first define a workplace with a BYOD setting as well as its pros and cons.

The BYOD workplace

An office that embraces the BYOD trend lets employees bring their own personal handheld or wearable device to use it for work-related tasks. Since the devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) are allowed to access company information and data connection, employees toting their own gadgets have more freedom over their preferred work area. With a portable device in tow, they can work anywhere with an Internet access.

The upsides

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Through the workstation flexibility it brings, BYOD changes the way people think about work. This fosters a positive outlook where productivity is measured by results rather than work hours.

As Dell CIO Adriana Karaboutis put it, “With today’s increasingly tech-savvy workforce and outcome-driven employees, companies have everything to gain from fully embracing the IT consumerization and mobility trend that is redefining the workplace.”

For technical support outsourcing companies, the biggest benefit is perhaps call volume decline. Gartner predicts that by 2016, tech support call centers will see a 25% to 30% drop in inbound requests, as BYOD reinforces multi-channeled customer service where agents fix product issues over channels (apps, email, live chat) that remove the necessity of phone calls.

The downsides

Despite the perceived advantages, IT professionals still see BYOD as a potential invitation to serious security threats. Corporate data stored in a personal device could be jeopardized once the gadget is lost, as 83% of lost or stolen smartphones are used to access company information, according to a study by security solutions company Symantec.

For this risk, IT experts advise against BYOD, saying that it complicates their work. Andrea Bradshaw, senior director at tech service provider CDW, even claimed, “Mobility has edged its way into the workplace, increasing and complicating IT’s workload, and often leading to frustration on all fronts.”

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In order to ensure stable network performance and prevent data dangers, IT officers enforce strict BYOD policies and end-user guidelines. Security measures and tools such as long passwords, screen locks, partitioning, geofencing, location tracking, and mobile app blacklists may secure corporate data at expense of the device user’s privacy. Thus, BYOD could restrict employees, as opposed to others’ claim that it provides greater freedom.

The verdict

BYOD indeed has its merits that are proven by various companies that have incorporated the use of personal devices into their corporate culture. However, this may not be beneficial to technical support outsourcing firms. Customer support tasks entail client information storage, and lenient work settings, like BYOD, open tech support to security threats and client confidentiality breach. In addition, call center work requires voice service-conducive facilities and environments to be efficient. Until greater assurance of data protection is achieved, call centers should think twice before allowing agents to work using their own devices.

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