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Managing the 21st century workforce: How mobility is transforming the enterprise

Businesses are having to think quickly and bring mobile device security into their IT infrastructure. The rapid growth of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), BYOA (Bring Your Own Apps) and even BYOx (Bring your own anything), coupled with access to faster connections including 4G, have all had a huge impact on the ways in which employees are working. According to the 2013 Forrester report, 'Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends', 37 per cent of employees are now working from multiple locations and 82 per cent of these workers are using mobile apps when they do so.

The BYOD movement brings with it a number of challenges, and according to a recent Mobile Security Survey from InformationWeek, four out of five IT decision makers rate the threat of lost or stolen devices as their number one security concern. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is one solution that businesses can utilise to manage corporate data on employee or business-owned devices. Building on this, Adam Stein from SAP, one of the market leaders in enterprise mobility software, recently stated that "protecting each and every device, app and document is key to embracing BYOx."

If a device is stolen for example, through the use of MDM, businesses can remotely wipe devices. In order for MDM to gain acceptance among employees in a BYOD context, businesses need to ensure they are transparent about what they can and cannot access on personal devices. According to InformationWeek's 2013 Mobile Security survey, 39 per cent of IT decision makers currently have MDM software in place.

With BYOD comes BYOA, and with BYOA comes the risk of employees using insecure mobile apps with corporate data. This is where IT decision makers need to think about which apps they want their employees to use. Enterprise app stores are one way of deploying off the shelf apps like GoodReader or SalesForce, but many companies are increasingly developing bespoke apps designed specifically for their employee and business requirements.

One way of managing apps on personal devices is Mobile Application Management (MAM) software. This allows businesses to separate personal apps from corporate apps. This technology reassures employees that, if they leave, any corporate data stored on their personal devices can be wiped without affecting their personal data like family photos or text messages. MAM also enables businesses to have a certain level of control over the apps being used. If a business decides they don't want their employees to use Dropbox for example, IT can blacklist apps from being loaded onto devices if they deem them to pose security risks.

As more employees are bringing their personal devices into the workforce, BYOD is not going away. If businesses are going to adopt BYOD then it is key that there is a policy in place, outlining both what will be expected of employees, but also transparency around access to personal information.

Businesses need to be making the most of the opportunity that mobile brings by considering their mobile strategy. So how can a business make the most of mobile devices and tablets in terms of improving efficiencies and productivity either through off the shelf or bespoke mobile apps?

"BYOD affords incredible opportunities to build apps to enable significant productivity gains," says Milja Gillespie of the SAP Mobile Secure product team. "Simple workflows like vacation requests and approvals, purchase order approvals, expense reports, and so on, can offer opportunities to speed up business processes and save money."

"Whether it is through BYOD, or company deployed, mobile devices used by employees need to be managed in order to reduce the risks of losing secure corporate data. MDM and MAM help businesses manage not only their devices, but also the apps used by employees, which is becoming more important with the rise of BYOA."

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Mark Mason is CEO of enterprise mobile app development specialist Mubaloo.