Smartphones and iPads are the new indispensable IT tools in every company. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has changed the way information is accessed and shared by employees across the globe and has urged IT departments to consider mobility as the core of their IT strategies. Though BYOD has been touted as the next trend, some IT professionals are BYOD reticent. They argue that the BYOD trend trickles in more complexities and vulnerabilities to the corporate security landscape, and thus are paralysed when taking the next step to transform their businesses with mobility.
However, there are five key reasons why BYOD matters and why there is no escaping from it:
BYOD is a tidal wave powered by users. Traditionally, IT departments controlled and regulated which mobile devices were allowed on the corporate floor. But today the tables have turned. Today’s dynamic mobile ecosystem pampers an average user with a plethora of choices. They pick mobile devices and conveniently use them to access corporate and personal emails, applications and documents.
BYOD boosts employee productivity. While for some organisations, the BYOD trend serves as a cost-saving tool, for many it bolsters employee morale, productivity, satisfaction and induces a better work-life balance.
The BYOD trend has added momentum to a string of other technology trends. Vendors and businesses are integrating multiple technologies (such as cloud storage services and mobile applications) to cater to the needs of consumers and interact in real time with their customers. Many businesses are deploying private app stores for their employees to facilitate secure data communication and interact with corporate systems wherever they are, whenever they want and using whichever devices they have.
Unmanaged BYOD can impact business reputation and spell disaster. Unguarded mobile devices are popular plug-ins for cybercriminals and an easy gateway for malware infestation. If an unmanaged BYOD device housing sensitive corporate data gets attacked or lost, businesses can face lose customer confidence, face competitive pressure, privacy complaints and severe legal complications. This is especially true in regulated industries such as healthcare.
BYOD will continue with either active or passive IT acceptance. As ActiveSync is enabled in mail servers, BYOD is already prevalent in many organisations, albeit with passive corporate IT acceptance. Also, since BYOD is driven by CXOs and senior executives, IT cannot say ‘No’.
So does BYOD add risk to an enterprise? It does. But the fact is employees are already using their personal mobile devices for business anyway. The IT strategy must be to empower the business but secure the risk. While comprehensive mobile security solutions are a foundation for BYOD management, the key lies in figuring out the right balance of software, MDM tools, people, processes and staff training. Lastly, to suppress BYOD privacy concerns, it is important that IT departments evaluate an MDM solution that blocks the collection of selected personal data such as a device’s location and installed applications. Employees may be apprehensive about using their personal mobile devices for business purposes if policies and processes are not in place to protect their privacy.
(The author works as a technical writer for MaaS360, a mobile device management company)