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February 4, 2013

BYOD: The New Normal

Business organizations have traditionally provided employees with all the tools and equipment required to successfully perform their jobs, namely a desktop computer and basic office supplies. This has changed in the past few years as technology has become more accessible and affordable.

As a result, by mid-2012 nearly 50 percent of Americans already owned a Smartphone and many businesses began allowing employees to incorporate their mobile devices into the workplace for the cost-saving benefits and productivity surges, as well as increased employee morale and convenience.

The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) movement has already been adopted by companies far and wide. According to statistics compiled by Enterasys Mobile, 74 percent of businesses allowed employees to use their own mobile devices in the workplace in 2011, a statistic that has clearly escalated over the past year.

One of the main advantages of the BYOD policy is employees can choose the devices and apps with which they are most comfortable—a minor implementation with major influences on productivity and efficiency. Businesses that allow BYOD are able to save money on high-priced devices as well as employ up-to-date technology. A whopping 81 percent of employees already use at least one device for business use.

With BYOD practices come the fruitful rewards of BYOA: ‘Bring Your Own Apps.’ No matter which Smartphone or mobile device each employee uses, from iPhone to BlackBerry, from Android to Palm, there are countless apps that can help simplify and organize every entrepreneur’s life.

According to one Neilson Report, 64 percent of mobile phone time is spent on apps, but with thousands available for download, it can be difficult to decide which are really worth their weight.

Among the myriad available, there are copious applications that can make a big difference within companies that encourage BYOD.

Here are a few that can help individuals at any corporate level stay organized:

Google Drive — It lets you store and access your files anywhere — on the Web, on your hard drive, on the go. If your business is looking for a cloud solution or already uses Google Drive on its standard computers, the Google Drive app should be a BYOD requirement. Access everything on Google Drive from any mobile device whenever you need it; share, collaborate or work alone. Any time your device has Internet access, Google Drive automatically updates, guaranteeing that all files and folders are synced up and on point.

Evernote — This is another app that can help organize even the most scatterbrained workers. It is a clipping-and-sorting tool that helps create various electronic files — text, images and photos, audio and voice memos, and videos — and gives you access to them through a variety of interfaces. Like Google Drive, you can sync your information with other devices, share with co-workers, plan meetings and presentations and more. Log into your Evernote account from anywhere and you’ll be able to read, write, search and otherwise use all your files.

Business Secrets — This is a valuable tool for learning more about a particular process or industry in the business world. Successful U.K. entrepreneur James Caan offers insights on categories including hiring, marketing, leadership, expanding overseas and leaving a company. This app is comparable to a virtual mentor and is great for getting advice, information and ideas for your personal skill set, your employees/co-workers and your business.

Other beneficial apps for the business world include Expensify, DropBox, GoToMeeting, Podio and 30/30, to name a few.

Some companies are taking extra measures to cater to the BYOD movement. For example, BlackBerry10 allows users to maintain separate personal and professional profiles for both data and apps. This feature makes it convenient to isolate the functions of the Smartphone, and also allows IT personnel to wipe company information once an employee leaves.

Although BYOD allows excessive flexibility, there are also some consistencies that need to be established for the sake of company cohesion. Ultimately, control over these applications now rests in the hands of users, although employers can encourage best practices for BYOD and require certain apps for seamless unity.

Alex Hepgurn contributed this guest post. He is an engineer with an extensive background in researching consumer electronics. He enjoys sharing his tips and insights about Smartphones, tablets and apps on various blogs.