'Bring Your Own Device' Programs Invade The Workplace

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While there are many issues facing corporate wireless programs today, the greatest new challenge seems to be the consumerization of IT. This increasingly used term refers to the influence that consumer technology experiences have on technology used in the workplace. According to a recent survey by Symantec, 91 per cent of employees say their company allows them to use their work-related smartphones for personal use. However, only 51 per cent report their employer has communicated policies or best practices to them regarding the security of their smartphonesPerhaps the most telling statistic relates to the trend of bring your own device (BYOD) policies in the workplace – including smartphones, tablet applications and more. This concept is catching on in organisations across the country. In fact, 63 per cent of businesses have implemented a BYOD program.

The traditional role of mobility management has focused on expense management, device/service provisioning and operational standards, but when BYOD comes into play, new issues arise for IT departments, employers and employees. As the social world enters the corporate world, new, non-traditional objectives are being created for seamless mobile management practices. As a result, BYOD calls for a new set of issues to address, because instead of IT departments forcing particular sets of mobile management solutions on their staff, employees can now use their company device for personal use.

These programs give employees the freedom to choose their smartphone, intertwining personal use with professional use. In turn, it can lower costs for both parties. Employees might decide to stay more connected to their job when a BYOD program is in place, thus increasing productivity at the same time–which is a benefit for any employer. However, IT departments need to make sure they have the resources to enforce passwords on company sensitive information, as well as maintain the ability to wipe data in the event that a device is lost or stolen.

While BYOD has become a common practice, it is also one that might require implementation of policies that employees are forced to adhere to in order to keep sensitive information safe and secure. The top three issues that executives and IT administrators must evaluate include:

1. Multiple operating systems. While the iPhone, Android and Blackberry–among others–are three of the most popular mobile devices, none of them operate on the same system. Companies need to evaluate how accessible their programs and apps are in each of the platforms, so that mobile apps for corporate practices are easily accessible to employees. Knowing what tools are available on each device gives the company a better idea of how their mobility program needs to be configured. Multiple operating systems also require the ability and knowledge to troubleshoot across all platforms. This is where centralized management comes into play. Finding the experts and continuing their education is typically a major expense for enterprises, but outsourcing alleviates the issue by having highly trained professionals on call for anything from a business-threatening situation to a minor issue with a mobile device.

2. Social applications. Social applications continue to integrate themselves into the business world. In fact, 58 per cent of small businesses alone have accounts on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, many employers question if it is acceptable to have social apps on work mobile devices. With the consumerization of IT and implementation of BYOD programs, this is an issue to address in mobile device policies given to each employee when they enter the company’s wireless program. Putting a policy program in place avoids the fine line between personal and professional usage and keeps employees on the same page as the IT management team.

3. Mobile device security. Opening files on devices and accessing databases through a company server are situations that should require strong passwords to complete a transaction. Enforcing strong passwords creates a more secure connection between wireless servers and sensitive information. This issue requires both offence and defence from the employee and IT department. Outsourcing mobile and wireless management solutions fills the security gap by providing policy and general business rules for monitoring and enforcement. Finding the right partner with access and support resources for a range of mobile device management and solution platforms is critical. No single solution will work for every OS, employee and need.

Every business has unique needs when it comes to company-wide mobile management solutions. Consumerization of IT and the BYOD programs require companies to reevaluate policies and programs regularly in order to stay in-tune with a successful mobility management solution.

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MOBI Wireless Management combines a centralized web-based portal, ongoing expense management and 24/7 end-user support to help companies better manage mobile telecom programs. Launched in 2007, MOBI Wireless Management set out to help companies lower wireless expenses, enhance end-user support, enforce wireless policy and save valuable time. From end-to-end procurement to comprehensive expense management to world-class help desk support, MOBI works behind the scenes and directly with carriers to simplify mobile telecom. For more information, visit www.mobiwm.com.

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