Following our last posting discussing why CIOs will be focusing on mobility this year, this post takes a closer look at mobile working and the questions it presents for IT teams.
Slowly but surely, BYOD has taken hold and as it’s become normal to work on the move, so the challenge of Mobile Device Management has become real for our customers.
The benefits of BYOD have never been in doubt. It brings performance and agility, because people are more productive when they can work from more locations, and can respond faster because if they don’t have to wait until they’re back in the office to access their email. There’s also a sense of empowerment that comes when employees can choose their preferred device and decide where they would like to work – in the office, at home, or in the field – and this links to enabling family-friendly working practices. It’s becoming more convenient too, to carry mobile devices, as they are getting smaller and easier to carry around.
So, as people bring their iPads, iPhones and Android devices to work and expect to connect them to the corporate network, the total number of devices that are using the network increases considerably.
We have observed the specific challenges our clients are facing as they try to bring order to this complicated situation and manage the growing expectations of everyone using the network. The first issue is to find a way manage the growing number of devices and operating systems, Apps and applications, and the many locations – can the current business network cope is often a starting point with new prospects?
It’s essential to have rules and policies that allow users to work as they want to, without introducing any threats to the network, but it’s not always so easy to enforce policies that rely on an element of trust and goodwill to make them watertight.
Ideally everyone who uses the network should be authorised, unless it is an open WiFi network, so that whoever is responsible for the network has a way of authorising individual permissions and monitoring what they are doing on the network. The priority has to be to keep the network secure, bearing in mind that malware tends to be a greater issue on employee-owned devices.
Companies also need to find a way to lock devices that go missing, and a way to block devices that are no longer authorised to use the network, for example, when an employee has moved on. There needs to be a boundary between the employees’ personal data and that which belongs to the business, so that the business’s data can be secure and the privacy of the individual can be respected.
The challenge is to find the right tools to manage the network for your organisation, and contain the cost of managing all the devices, so that the investment in BYOD is not excessive in relation to the benefits it brings. We expect to develop these ideas further in our Unified Communications consultancy work this year.