BYOD: IT Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

From carrying multiple communications-capable devices to wearing communications-capable clothing and accessories – and let’s not forget William Gibson’s wetware dystopia where communications-capable devices wear you – BYOD (bring your own device) is top of mind. Just the sales volumes are staggering. While hordes of Chicken Littles scramble around squawking about the death of the PC, sales of smartphones, tablets, phablets and everything else portable are skyrocketing.

IDC reported that the mobile phone market grew 4% year over year in the seasonally slow first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), with vendors shipping a total of 418.6 million mobile phones; smartphone shipments were 216.2 million units, growing 41.6% YoY. “Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

On the tablet front, Q1 shipments surged 142.4% YoY to 49.2 million units, surpassing that of the entire first half of 2012, said IDC. While Apple beat expectations and accounted for 19.5 million units, Microsoft finally made it into the top five vendors, shipping nearly 900,000 Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets.

From an enterprise perspective, BYOD is causing havoc as IT tries to juggle the often-competing demands of choice, access, productivity, security and governance. “What IT is really concerned about is the data, not the device itself,” said Jaspreet Singh, CEO of Druva, an endpoint data security and backup provider.

Gartner is predicting that as BYOD programs continue to become more commonplace, 38% of companies expect to stop providing devices to workers by 2016. “However, the business case for BYOD needs to be better evaluated,” said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22% believe they have made a strong business case.”

While BYOD is occurring in companies and governments of all sizes, it is most prevalent in midsize and large organizations ($500 million to $5 billion in revenue, with 2,500 to 5,000 employees), said the research company. BYOD also permits smaller companies to go mobile without a huge device and service investment.

One of the major challenges is separating corporate from personal data, he said. “This is where the MDM guys help.”

That’s probably why there has been so much happening in this segment lately. CA and SAP just announced an MDM partnership built around Afaria. F5 Mobile App Manager is a ‘complete’ BYOD solution, and Soti MobiControl just got a refresh.

EMC’s virtualization frontman, VMware, just launched a service with Verizon that will enable true “dual persona” smart phones for enterprise use. The VMware Horizon Mobile service reportedly provides ‘a corporate workspace that is controlled and managed by IT, and is completely separate from the employee’s personal information, applications and data on the device. The workspace contains its own operating system, applications and policies, enabling IT to remotely manage the entire lifecycle of the workspace. IT is able to provision the workspace, deploy applications and monitor the flow of information to and from the workspace for security.’

According to Forrester, companies that focus on the next killer app to take advantage of this ‘mobile frenzy’ are missing the bigger picture: The power of mobile access is not about the devices and apps we use now but about the change in attitudes that they are creating in the minds of millions of customers.

The research company has divided consumers into six segments. The bottom three — Disconnecteds, Dabblers, and Roamers — are unshifted segments. According to new data, 78% of US online adults are in this group: They don’t show clear signs of a change in attitude.

The top three segments — Adapters, Immersers, and Perpetuals — are shifted and, therefore, have high expectations for their mobile experience. Twenty-two percent of the population are shifted; for companies whose customer base falls largely into these segments, there is greater urgency to have a plan in place to provide mobile services. Of the 4% who are Perpetuals, four out of five have a tablet in addition to their smartphone and connect anytime, anywhere, and the annual household income for this segment is more than $110,000.

Gartner said security is the top concern for BYOD. The risk of data leakage on mobile platforms is particularly acute. Some mobile devices are designed to share data in the cloud and have no general purpose file system for applications to share, increasing the potential for data to be easily duplicated between applications and moved between applications and the cloud.

“We’re finally reaching the point where IT officially recognizes what has always been going on: People use their business device for nonwork purposes,” said Willis. “They often use a personal device in business. Once you realize that, you’ll understand you need to protect data in another way besides locking down the full device. It is essential that IT specify which platforms will be supported and how; what service levels a user should expect; what the user’s own responsibilities and risks are; who qualifies; and that IT provides guidelines for employees purchasing a personal device for use at work, such as minimum requirements for operating systems.”

Author: Steve Wexler

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  1. I agree with you and the Gartner survey that the risk of data leakage on mobile platforms is particularly acute. Security and especially data security are the main challenge for most organization and BYOD, but there are many solutions out there that can work with both Android and iOS. I think one of the more interesting solutions that shows how fast BYOD solutions are evolving; is that companies are writing their own data security apps that use API’s like Tigertext’s SOX/HIPAA compliant texting TigerConnect API, or the Dropbox API, that run on multiple device and OSes. I think you will see more companies using this strategy to deal with BYOD, and although it is not a complete solution, it is very applicable for many situations and businesses.

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