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To stay competitive, retailers should embrace the BYOD trend


From smartphones to tablets and laptops, mobile devices have become staple tools across all industries.

But just as employers are getting their heads around policies to monitor the use and security of mobile devices, a new trend has emerged to shake things up:  BYOD, or bring-your-own-device.

"People have gone out and bought their own mobile devices, they're using the services available in the consumer market and they're finding ways to connect to the corporate infrastructure, whether it's authorized or not," said Stewart Cawthray, chief security architect for IBM security services.

While the trend is causing a lot of headaches for employers, who are scrambling to introduce policies covering everything from security to maintenance issues, one store in Toronto has embraced BYOD.

Eighteen months ago, Toronto Korean grocer Galleria implemented QLR (query, layout and reporting) technology at its two stores, allowing customers to scan product codes on their smartphones.

"We encourage our employees to use their mobile devices," said Won Ha, category manager for Galleria. "When our employees get off work, they turn into our customers, so we don't have any specific restrictions."

Galleria also recently issued iPads to its executives, and held its first paperless executive meeting in November.

One of the biggest headaches for employers around managing mobile devices is security. But Ha said the paperless system is an improvement on the old methods.

Tip for developing a BYOD strategy:

  1. Determine the level of use for various levels of employees.

  2. Implement security measures. The safest way is to ensure devices are "dumb terminals" that do not store corporate data, but are merely used as a portal to connect to a secure employer network. An alternative is to implement mobile device management in each device, so data can be wiped remotely.

  3. Determine who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of employee-owned devices.

  4. Educate employees on the rules, including why they are in place.

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