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Why mobility is so important and how-to produce an effective BYOD policy

A recent study found that 94 per cent of businesses considered mobility a “concern” yet only 32 per cent had any form of BYOD (bring your own device) policy in place. I spoke to Sean McAvan, managing director of NaviSite Europe to understand this disparity in results and to find out how businesses should develop the BYOD policy that’s right for them.

In the study 94 per cent said enabling mobility is a “concern” what is meant by that and what are some solutions that businesses are using to gain that mobility? Similarly why is there such a huge interest in "mobility"?

Typically when IT staff state that enabling mobility is a concern, they are in a position where people are using their own devices and IT are tasked with integrating these systems into corporate networks at the same time as keeping corporate data secure.

Of the survey respondents in the UK 32 per cent had a BYOD policy. A BYOD policy, enabled via services and tools would help to mitigate these issues, as it would ensure clearly defined operating procedures, polices and checks to ensure that mobility was implemented with the necessary controls for data security.

One of the solutions which organisations could implement to gain mobility in a secure way is to setup a MDM (mobile device management) solution which would provide:

  • Controlled access to enterprise assets, encrypt sensitive data, enforce compliance and security standards
  • A way to distribute, track, update and secure critical applications, over-the-air, on the array of end-user devices
  • A secure, streamlined way to share, to sync and to edit enterprise- and user generated content
  • Complete and controllable separation of corporate and personal data
  • Secure enterprise applications leveraging app wrapping, testing, user authentication, geo-fencing and branding.

The implementation of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) would also be a secure way of supporting mobility, where data and applications are maintained at a secure data centre, and accessible from any end point device which had an internet connection.

This solution also enables organisations to quickly spin up and spin down new desktops to meet seasonal demands and is an ideal solution for remote workers where data is highly sensitive, for example programmers working in remote locations.

With mobile workers, there is an increased risk of a device being compromised as people are on the move, however with a DaaS solution, irrespective of whether the end point device was lost, stolen or damaged, data would remain secure.

Why is there this huge interest in becoming mobile?

There have been big technological shifts which support mobility; the growth of tablets in the corporate world, the growth of mobile devices, and the phenomenon of phablets where mobile screens become comparable to tablet screens.

There has also been a tremendous increases in network speeds; with mobile devices using both Wi-Fi fibre connectivity and high speed mobile networks with 4G .The end user drive has often arisen from staff having their own devices which they use at home and then wish to continue to use for business purposes.

Often the personal devices are of a higher specification than the models which are offered through the business IT policy and when senior executives are the ones bringing in the devices, they have a strong influence on changing company policy to accommodate the devices.

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mobility, byod, agile

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Unfortunately our office got the wrong end of the stick when it came to "mobility"[/caption]

Despite the overwhelming “concern” for mobility, close to 70 per cent of businesses don’t even have a BYOD policy. Why do you think this is and what’s the main roadblock for enterprises looking to implement a BYOD policy?

Although this is something which was not pursued in the survey, we know that some organisations are managing mobility on a tactical basis, with specific groups with high needs being catered for without an overarching BYOD policy being in place.

In other instances, companies have allowed mobile users to connect their own devices to the corporate network, but have not yet implemented policies and management tools to control this; potentially putting systems and company data at risk.

The speed at which the “shadow IT” has permeated corporate IT has caused problems for many IT departments. The need to enable workers with agile system access and the benefits of doing so may have initially outweighed the desire to pause the process and control it.

On the same tack what are the key elements of an effective BYOD policy?  

An effective BYOD policy should include a software application or tools for managing the devices connecting to the network, a written policy outlining the responsibilities of both the employer and the users, and an agreement which users must sign, acknowledging that they have read and understand the policy.

The policy should include a definition of what is acceptable use, it should outline which devices will be supported and the level of support that the company IT function will provide and the reimbursement which will be provided for these devices to the employee. It should also outline the security measures which the employee will need to implement in order to meet the guidelines and state the risks, liabilities and disclaimers which apply to the policy.

A big thank you to Sean for sharing his insights into mobility and BYOD. What are some of the more effective BYOD policies you've implemented in your business? Or what's stopping you from starting your own BYOD policy? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: Wikipedia