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Addressing BYOD challenges

Editorial
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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) seems ideal for companies when it comes to mobile technology. But, as Denise Carson explains, it should be introduced cautiously.

BYOD makes great sense, especially to Gen X and Y employees and tablet-wielding executives, but ICT Operations must take a measured approach to the phenomenon in order for it to be successful.

Two years ago, most organisations were seemingly in denial about mobility. Since then, the BYOD trend has been adopted by increasing numbers of workers, both officially and unofficially.

Despite the many benefits of BYOD for employees, the proliferation of personal devices at work seems to present just as many challenges for operational ICT teams.

Operational ICT teams must learn to survive in a warzone of continuously-evolving mobile devices, fragmented operating systems, unsupported mobile apps and all their accompanying security threats.

Choice of device, security and management are the principal challenges BYOD presents to operational ICT teams. How should companies address them?

Choice of device

BYOD was initially seen as a way to reduce costs and improve productivity and flexibility. However, BYOD can pose data security threats. Allowing BYOD can result in an increased need for IT resources and support, increased costs, difficulty maintaining network performance, and challenges in managing devices and applications.

In response, models such as Choose your own Device (CYOD), where a very limited number of approved devices and platforms are permitted, is now supplementing or even replacing BYOD.

Another emerging policy model is Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE), which provides the user with more flexibility while the organisation retains control over usage and support costs, security, and other areas of potential risk such as legal and HR implications.

Security

While BYOD, CYOD and COPE may be a matter of flexibility and convenience for users, data leakage, policy or regulatory compliance breaches and malware pose a very serious risk to the business.

Without a robust Enterprise Mobility Management strategy, risky employee behaviour, whether accidental or deliberate, is inevitable.

One approach to solving this challenge is separating personal and work data through dual personas on a single device. Sensitive business information is encapsulated within a trusted workspace or container on the device. However, for ICT to impose dual personas on users, they must also expend resources on supporting it.

Management

Many ICT teams struggle with tablet and smartphone management due to the sheer variety of operating systems and features and the rapid evolution of devices.

Businesses can reduce the effort involved in managing end devices by placing parameters around BYOD and deploying mobile device management (MDM) software. The provision of corporate portals, enterprise social network groups and wikis can also help alongside regular training updates on policy and usage.

Ideally, every organisation will create a mobility strategy and management plan with rules for the use of mobile devices in the workplace.

A mobility management plan that closely mirrors your corporate management guidelines is the best way to ensure there is no confusion. This should be developed before users have access to corporate information assets via personal devices.

[Denise Carson is UXC Connect’s Practice Manager – Enterprise Mobility & Wireless].

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