Introduction to device diversity
Device diversity means the variety of devices in a particular network or organization. This includes computers, smartphones and tablets. In recent years, device diversity has grown because of remote working and BYOD (‘bring your own device’) working practices. Device diversity gives flexibility and choice for users. But it also poses challenges for compatibility, security, and device management.
In this article you will get an overview of what device diversity means for your business. We’ll cover the many operational advantages it can bring for innovation, productivity, and growth. But we’ll also discuss the security issues it can cause for businesses big and small. Let’s dive right in.
What is the definition of device diversity?
Device diversity refers to the variety of hardware used in a particular organization. Increasingly, this includes work devices along with personal smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables.
In recent years, device diversity has massively increased. One reason for this is obvious: there are simply far more devices in the world.
Since the arrival of the first iPhone in 2007, most people have at least one mobile device. Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum, there are now more mobile phones than people in the world!
With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the number of devices has grown even further. Now traditional devices like smartphones and laptops exist in a growing network with smartwatches, tablets, smart TVs, and AI assistants. It is expected that the number of internet-enabled devices will reach almost 30 billion devices by 2030.
Another key driver of an increased device diversity is remote working. Accelerated by the pandemic, remote working means workers can work from home, or wherever they are. This often requires new devices — a smartphone to stay contactable on the commute, for example, or a laptop for home.
Finally, more and more companies are now encouraging their workers to use their own devices for work. These BYOD or ‘bring your own device’ policies have led to more device diversity. According to a recent global Gartner study, 55% of workers reported using personal devices for work at least some of the time.
All in all, this shift brings clear operational and financial advantages for businesses and employees. But it has also prompted security and legal concerns. Let’s explore this in more detail.
What are the advantages of device diversity?
In today’s distributed workforces, device diversity solves many problems for business owners and employees. Here are five of its most important advantages.
Managing a growing number of connected devices is a unique and growing challenge. As a result, it has led to lots of investment and innovation in asset management.
This investment and innovation have only grown since the pandemic. Out of this, consumers can now access a range of sophisticated solutions. This includes TeamViewer’s best-in-class remote monitoring and management platform, now enhanced with integrated Lansweeper technologies.
Device diversity also allows for innovation by creating more flexibility and speed in work. Employees are usually more comfortable using their own devices. This removes the need for extensive training and gives them the space and time needed to innovate.
Which brings us to our next advantage: easier onboarding. Of course, it does not require the same level of training if employees are using their own devices. They also don’t need to learn how to use new platforms or hardware.
Another bonus is that your employees won’t need to wait to receive company hardware. Instead, they can get working right away. All of this allows employees to adjust quickly and easily, saving you both time and money.
Supports working with external experts
More devices can also make it much easier to collaborate and work with external partners. In the past, for example, external partners would need to use the same technology, often in the same network. This would lead to siloing and communication problems.
Now, with increased device diversity, collaboration is much more straightforward. Often, it’s enough to share the same cloud-based software. This can help your business to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and stay innovative.
Increased device diversity can also make us more productive. For one thing, employees are much more comfortable working on their personal devices. With fewer barriers facing them, they can get to work right away.
Additionally, an increase in the number of devices means a boost in connectivity. This too is great for productivity. Because if your workers are reachable on personal as well as company devices this allows them to be accessible and productive, wherever they are.
Employees are also happier this way. According to a recent study by VMware, 61% of the participants said that they were happier in jobs when they could use their personal device for work. And it goes without saying: Happier workers are more productive. This can drive your business’ efficiency and margins in turn.
Which brings us nicely to our next point: Increased device diversity can also help to bring down your business costs. It does this by cutting the need for expensive new hardware and training for employees.
This is an important consideration for businesses of all sizes. According to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, such savings add up to $3,150 per employee per year. If done properly and securely, this can support your business to invest where it matters most.
What are the disadvantages of device diversity?
Of course, it’s not all good news. With the increase in device diversity comes a range of new and sometimes complex problems. Here are some of the most important ones:
Put simply, shadow IT refers to all IT assets being used in a company without the knowledge or oversight of security or IT departments. Shadow IT flies under the radar, and it can cause serious problems for IT departments and your entire company. These include greater risk of data breaches and cyberattacks, and an increased likelihood of compliance infringements.
As you might imagine, an increase in device diversity typically leads to a growth in shadow IT. Due to their use of personal and unmonitored devices, BYOD policies present a considerable threat to security and compliance. This can have serious consequences for your business. To learn more about this, read our recent article on shadow IT.
In a similar way, an increase in device diversity can make your company more vulnerable to cyberattacks. It does this in two main ways. Firstly, the attack surface area becomes bigger when there are more devices. There are simply more possibilities for people to attack.
Secondly, an increase in the number of devices means inconsistent security. Consider, for example, a person who works on highly encrypted hardware at work but uses their personal smartphone for emails from home. Here, multiple devices are creating greater opportunities for cybercrime.
If you’re not careful, increased device diversity can also lead to serious legal issues.
One example here is compliance regulations. Let’s imagine that you have an explosion in the number of devices across an organization — say, with the introduction of BYOD policies. In this scenario, it’s going to be near impossible to ensure compliance across all hardware and software. Sometimes, IT departments don’t even know that some devices exist!
When handling sensitive customer or client data, non-compliance with internal and governmental regulations is a serious business. Even accidental infringements can result in severe repercussions, including data leaks, reputational damage, and costly fines.
Lack of uniformity
Of course, an increase in the number of devices also presents a problem for efficiency and collaboration. Imagine a workforce that uses PCs in the office, with a mixture of iOS and Android smartphones for remote working. For certain functions, this lack of uniformity will result in communication problems and delays.
Added to this, an increase in device diversity also presents a huge issue for IT technicians. Simply put, the wider the range of devices, the greater the expertise needed to fix them! This in turn can require more resources and training and reduce efficiency.
Lastly, a rise in device diversity leads to negative environmental consequences. To put it simply: More devices equal more waste.
Of course, more devices take more energy to run, leading to an increased carbon footprint. At the same time, producing these devices usually causes damage to the environment. Take, for example, the carbon-intensive mining of heavy metals needed to produce smartphones.
Now and in the years to come, sustainability will be a key topic for businesses and consumers all over the world. As a result, we always need to consider environmental impact alongside the positive benefits of decentralized work.
It’s safe to assume that device diversity will only increase further in the years to come. So-called New Work and remote working are now common practice. This in turn has led to an explosion of new devices on which we conduct our business.
So, what can we do about it? To stay competitive and attract talent, businesses need to capitalize on decentralized working. At the same time, they need to keep their IT assets and data safe.
The most effective way of doing this is by monitoring the devices in your organization. This must be done continually, using the most secure technologies.
TeamViewer’s remote solution offers all this and more. Now with integrated Lansweeper technologies, it allows you to monitor and safeguard all IT assets in your network. You’ll be able to keep track of everything.
With TeamViewer, your business will have the freedom to stay connected and grow — all the while enjoying the peace of mind of unbeatable security.