Skip to main content

Why you seriously need to start thinking mobility

Businesses and employees are demanding more mobility than ever before. The rise of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing has given organisations greater flexibility and agility than previously possible, but it has come with added risks.

BYOD, in its various forms, has meant that firms increasingly do not own the devices responsible for storing and transferring corporate data, and hence securing this data has become much more challenging.

Read more: AVG Business Secure Sign-On helps smaller firms combine security and mobility

For modern businesses, however, ignoring mobility is out of the question. Even with the associated risks, more mobility can result in massively increased efficiency and help you to steal a march on your competitors. With the rapid pace of change in today’s digital world, mobility is something that every business needs to seriously consider.

BYOD – Bring your own disaster?

Much has been said about “bring your own device” (BYOD) and the potential security minefield that it brings, but is it really as clear cut as more mobility equalling less security?

In actual fact, the relationship is much more complex and will often depend on the organisation and what BYOD policy it wishes to employ. The most important thing, however, is that an organisation must have a clearly defined BYOD policy in place before it considers becoming more mobile. Once these security guidelines are in place, it is usually a lot easier to decide what the best route forward is.

Companies may decide to go with the standard BYOD approach, which essentially means employees can use their personal handsets in the workplace. This offers a wealth of benefits, including increased employee satisfaction and hence productivity. By enabling members of staff to carry one handset instead of two, they are likely to remain contactable and able to complete work on the move.

A BYOD approach can also result in major savings for the IT department as the company no longer needs to supply every employee with a work smartphone. Employees are also more likely to take greater care of their own handsets, so maintenance and repair costs are usually lower.

As well as offering employees flexibility, BYOD as a concept is also very malleable. Variations such as CYOD (choose your own device) and COPE (corporate owned, personally enabled) ensure that there is likely to be a policy to suit every company, no matter which side of the mobility-security divide you come down on.

CYOD offers businesses more control than BYOD by limiting the handsets staff can use to a select number of company approved devices. This does offer IT leaders more security, but of course, places limits on employee choice. COPE, meanwhile, enables employees to choose any device they wish, but ownership of the handset ultimately resides with the employer. This is important, as by retaining ownership of the device, businesses also retain ownership of any data stored within it. This can be crucial if companies need to remotely wipe a device, so they need to be transparent with staff so they know exactly what kind of BYOD policy is in place.

Another way around BYOD anxieties is to employ a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system. MDM is usually provided by an external supplier and enables companies to oversee corporate devices and data more easily and decide which members of staff can access which particular sets of data.

Overall, as long as companies have a clear idea of their own security protocols, there’s no reason that BYOD should mean “bring your own disaster.”

Dark clouds ahead?

Another huge enabler of mobility that has seen increased adoption over the last few years is cloud computing.

Like BYOD, the cloud has made businesses faster and more efficient and, once again, comes with its own security risks. Some businesses are reticent to store company data on external servers, because as soon as information is off-premise they have less control. However, due to the numerous advantages offered by cloud computing, it has seen widespread use, with the latest State of the Cloud report finding that 93 per cent of businesses use the technology in some form.

Once a business has decided to adopt the cloud, it must then decide whether it is going to use a public, private or hybrid cloud approach. The latter is currently the most popular method, primarily because of the way it combines security and mobility.

Hybrid cloud is utilised by companies that need the extra agility and faster deployment enabled by cloud technology, but do not want a third-part supplier to handle sensitive information. A common example is filtering communication services like email through the public cloud, while keeping other forms of corporate data in-house.

A hybrid cloud approach also offers businesses the kind of rapid scalability that wouldn’t be possible using only on-premise servers. For example, companies can switch seamlessly between the public and private cloud in order to accommodate usage spikes when using a hybrid cloud platform.

Read more: A faster path to enterprise mobility in a BYOD world

As with BYOD, the key to securely enabling cloud mobility is more human than it is technical. Companies must understand what information they can afford to store off-premise and what data would be better positioned internally. Once IT leaders have a clear security plan in place, there’s no reason to fear increased business mobility.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.