Here it is, nearly the end of 2013. Just this week, Apple unveiled the fifth-generation iPad. According to Gartner, about 120 million tablets were shipped last year. It’s not uncommon anymore to see folks go to work with both a tablet and a smartphone in their briefcase.
The point is: It’s no longer a new thing to take your personal computing device to work, a practice known by the handy acronym BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
And yet, a new study shows, many enterprises – and their IT staffs or IT managed services partners – are still struggling to integrate this influx of new devices.
The study, conducted by Dimension Data, included more than 1,600 IT and security professionals around the world. Overwhelmingly, researchers found, companies rank mobility as a high priority and yet have no plan on orderly integration of BYOD.
There is what researchers called a “critical gap between the vision these IT leaders have for enterprise mobility and the real-world implementations.”
“For most business, it’s not a case of if, but when personal mobile devices in the workplace will be business-critical,” said Tim Boyd of Dimension Data.
Examples of a Disconnect on Mobility
For example of the disconnect, 90 percent of respondents in the United States said BYOD’s greatest benefit is an increase in productivity, from enabling sales teams to be more effective in the field to enhancing communications and providing better service to clients. At the same time, 44 percent said their employees were unable to access all applications to perform their job functions using personal mobile devices.
Some other potential problems identified in the study:
- Twenty-nine percent of IT leader respondents said non-employees and guests are able to obtain limited access to the enterprise network from a mobile device. Yikes. We’d hope these folks are involving IT security experts in developing a comprehensive mobility strategy.
- While IT leaders seem to understand the risks generated by BYOD, business leaders do not seem to appreciate the extent and depth of the problem. “Having rogue, inadequately protected, and unknown devices on the network is really just a slice of the risk landscape,” Boyd said. “Organizations must also consider their server and application infrastructures along with data protection against … loss or corruption as users, data and devices traverse the network.”
- Only 32 percent of companies implementing a mobility plan have conducted a security audit of applications touched by mobile devices.
With the Right Expertise, Enterprises Can Benefit from BYOD
The bottom line of the study is that business leaders see great opportunity in the BYOD movement and are rushing in, perhaps too quickly. The study is a note of caution that mobility integration must be handled systematically – and by experts.
Companies need their IT staffs or managed IT services partners to consider such questions as:
- Which devices to include in a mobility plan
- How to keep abreast of constantly changing form factors
- Whether the company should adopt a COPE (Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled) approach instead of outright allowing personal devices to access a network
- How to assess various platforms for security vulnerabilities
That’s a lot to consider. Companies are wise to step through each question carefully.