In 2010, 56 percent of mobile workers had a company-provided phone and only 11 percent chose their own device, which the company then supported. Fast forward three years and the tables have turned: more than 65 percent of employees are bringing and paying for their own mobile phones for work. Bring your own device (BYOD) is a phenomenon that has affected workplaces of all sizes and industries, offering benefits of convenience and low-cost. Unfortunately, it also brings headaches, security concerns and privacy challenges to the enterprise, especially for IT departments.
I recently spoke with Brian Rapp, senior director for sourcing solutions at Xchanging, a multitiered business process outsourcer and provider of technology and procurement services, about the BYOD trend, where it’s going and what some of the biggest challenges are that companies need to overcome.
According to Rapp, BYOD is still in its infancy. Xchanging predicts the trend to grow seven to 12 percent over the next year or two, hitting a 50 to 60 percent adoption rate over the next three years. While there are companies embracing this trend, there are many industries, such as government and financial services companies, who aren’t ready for the risks associated with BYOD.
Rapp explains there are three main security challenges for bring your own device: security, privacy and hidden costs. Companies may turn to BYOD and think they are opting for a low-cost solution, but in reality are facing hidden costs of productivity loss, application support, additional software, infrastructure support and additional professionals. Bringing in a third-party company such as Xchanging helps recognize these costs and be fully aware of what you can prepare for. If you’ve recognized these costs and found a way to manage and prepare for them, you may turn to a mobile device management (MDM) solution. A common problem with MDM is the constantly flow of employees entering and leaving a company. MDM still needs to mature in order to secure the data moving in and out of companies’ networks on hundreds of different devices.
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Capabilities necessary to secure this data include multitiered asset tracking, which can track the data and usage on tablets, smartphones, laptops and other devices. With the average person owning 6.25 connected devices, companies need to be able to successfully identify how many devices an employee owns and which ones are hitting the corporate network and which are offline at all times. It’s also crucial that companies have the ability to see what data is being shared, downloaded or pushed to a mobile device.
Another critical aspect of your company network to consider before applying BYOD is your Wi-Fi network. With more and more devices appearing in the workplace, networks need more bandwidth. Rapp explains it’s really risky to have just one network – companies should be operating secure company Wi-Fi and guest Wi-Fi to ensure secure wireless connections. Guests and unknown users should not be able to have the same access to corporate data, files and ability to download as trusted employees.
An interesting solution Rapp brought up was the different kinds of access policies companies are adopting to determine who can access data to an organization and when. For example, employees can have time-specific access to a network and company data, such as from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., implement a role-based firewall, giving upper management access to an environment all of the time, or opt for both.
“One of the things no one is talking about yet is COPE,” said Rapp. COPE, or Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled, is a happy medium between BYOD and company-provided devices that allows organizations to dictate what carrier to choose and still give employees the freedom to determine what apps they want to use. Instead of the traditional method of companies only providing one phone, COPE allows IT departments to give options for multiple devices that the company can support.
In addition to providing support for BYOD-enabled workplaces, Xchanging offers enterprise solutions for product lifecycle management, e-Business excellence in partnership with Oracle (News - Alert), data warehouse, business intelligence, document management and business process management. To learn more, visit www.xchanging.com.
Edited by Brooke Neuman