Nearly half of all employees in a recent iPass survey said that they use their personal smartphone at work, and we’re pretty sure that’s a conservative number.
With the near ubiquity of smartphones and employees who have grown accustomed to using their preferred software to get things done, it is no wonder that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is an explosive enterprise trend. Not only can employees use the software they want, but they can bypass the hassle of corporate security policies and other restrictions. Like that Biblical apple, using personal devices is just too tempting for many to resist.
Additionally, Juniper Research (News - Alert) estimates that there is currently about 150 million employee-owned devices being used in the enterprise for business purposes, and it expects that number to grow to 350 million by 2014.
Businesses need to embrace the BYOD trend, suggests both anecdotal evidence and expert opinion. There’s no reason to beat them, so you might as well join them and reap all of the benefits.
“As companies worldwide see increased pressure to allow employees to use their own devices for work, more and more are looking to formal programs to make this work with internal systems and security protocols,” noted Jim Haviland, chief marketing officer for Vox Mobile.
Smart enterprises are wise to follow a recipe that includes user segmentation, technology alignment, defined policies, security and support, according to Haviland.
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“Companies need to define needs and usage patterns, locations of use and business requirements,” he said. This might include such elements as job criticality, time sensitivity, value derived from mobility, data and systems access needed, and application usage when building a BYOD program.
It also is equally important to consider technology alignment and device choice. This includes evaluating the end-user device, applications, device management software and security protocols.
“This technology portfolio is a living set of standards that may change several times each year to maintain alignment with the application roadmap, device evolution, end-user segment needs,” Haviland noted.
Policies and security obviously are two of the biggest factors in a successful BYOD program. Needless to say, policies must be firm and put into action.
There are many security factors that must be considered when crafting a BYOD policy, and many experts advocate mobile device management software that can bridge the gap between personal and corporate devices by creating a walled corner on the employee’s device where corporate documents can securely reside and other practices can be enforced.
Security factors to consider include asset and identity management, local storage and removable media controls, network access levels, network application controls, corporate versus personal application controls, permissions and authentication, password settings, device health and data loss prevention, among others.
Support also is a tricky issue given the range of devices that might be used.
“Having a well-thought out 24/7 infrastructure is key,” concluded Haviland. “Otherwise IT will spend time troubleshooting small issues rather than on strategic projects.”
If developed with care, official BYOD policies can ensure that personal devices become an asset for the thriving enterprise, not a liability.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo