BYOD – it’s about more than just security

BYOD and security issues are often used in the same breath. But what about the other concerns?

The consumerisation of end-user devices in business is a trend that will be staying put and companies need to address all the challenges that come with it.“Everyone thought the bring your own device (BYOD) trend was going to pass, but not only is it still going strong, it is rapidly being adopted by businesses across SA,” says OptiSolutions’ senior Windows systems administrator, Herbert Zimbizi. “Companies need to be geared for all it involves.”According to Michael Fletcher, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa, BYOD has become a necessity in the work environment which is being driven by employees wanting to bring their own devices – whatever these may be – to the work environment, and enabling them to use the same devices for work and personal purposes.“Communications are expanding to include the many methods available on mobile devices,” explains Jacques van Wyk, executive GM of direct and indirect operations at Ricoh SA. “People love the flexibility and connectedness they get from these devices so where companies don’t supply them they’re using their own.”

Oliver Potgieter, director at Alto Africa believes productivity and mobility are major drivers for the BYOD trend. “Until now, most South African organisations have simply let users ‘get on with it’. However, that’s come to a predictable head – and now many companies are looking for solutions to regain some control and formalise policy around BYOD.”

1. BYOD CONCERNS

Besides security, there are many issues that affect BYOD, such as support issues, compatibility, complexity, data ownership, and trust. According to van Wyk, support becomes an issue when an employee is travelling, for example, and cannot use the system as intended. “The support team cannot help them if they don’t know the environment the employee is using and it becomes too expensive and difficult to maintain a support team for the great variety of devices and operating environments that exist today.”Matthew Barker, regional manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Aruba Networks explains how tech support is bombarded with requests for configuration assistance and complaints about unreachable assets. “They end up scrambling to either validate thirdparty mobile apps or to develop new ones in-house that make these devices more usable.”In this vein, updates can also be a real headache, Fletcher states. “It used to be as easy as pressing one button when sending internal communications. Now one needs to consider the variety of devices on the network and this can make the task longer (to ensure all formats receive communication on their desired platform) than it would have taken prior to BYOD.” He also believes training can be a challenge. “If employees haven’t used the advanced technology they need to be taken through thorough training to ensure they know how to make use of these devices. This could take time and cost money,” he says.

2. DEVICE CHOICE & APPS

Compatibility issues rank very high on the list of BYOD problems, both for the users and the companies employing them.According to Potgieter, compatibility is related to support, and many questions come into play, such as:should network policy objectives be enforced on personal devices? And where does responsibility lie with regards to patches, updates, operating system (OS) versions and antivirus? He also points out further aspects like browser compatibility can have a major impact on corporate apps.Daniel Hall, country manager at Magic Software SA believes the choice of OS and device is a very personal choice and statement to the world. “But this has major implications with regards to compatibility and costs in terms of the number of different application variations an organisation needs to develop and maintain.”He reminds us how each OS requires a different coding language and deployment process. “In order to cater for all employees (and partners and customers) enterprises need to develop their apps for multiple operating systems and devices. Native coding from the ground up for each app for each device can quickly become cost-prohibitive.”

The moment the app user experience does not meet expectations, dissatisfaction sets in, Hall warns. “60% of the workforce who use enterprise apps admit dissatisfaction with them, and a staggering 63% have taken matters into their own hands and downloaded off-the-shelf apps to replace the enterprise’s apps.“According to Hall, app development needs to move towards a multi-channel development approach and provide optimal access to the organisation’s backend systems for efficient mobilisation of business processes. “By using a platform that conforms to a ‘develop once and deploy to multiple devices’ approach, the enterprise can save time to market and money.”Hall further believes user experience is one of the biggest bottlenecks. “The user experience must take into account the context of the mobile user and present just the functionality and information that is required while enabling needed transactions. If the user experience isn’t up to the standards of what users are receiving in their consumer apps, the enterprise’s mobile apps will not be used,” he says.According to van Wyk, accessorising the devices becomes an issue, too, when there are multiple environments to support. “Employees may be able to run presentations from their tablets or even their phones in some cases. But without standardisation to some degree they may not be able to connect to output or display devices. That can present significant challenges further down the road as unified communications becomes increasingly popular. It can also be challenging when companies want to integrate mobile devices with workflow and processing systems because they need to hook into toomany APIs and there may be simple incompatibility issues that disallow the opportunity,” he says.Zimbizi believes the quality of the user device can be a huge challenge for the enterprise. “In the case where companies issue devices to its employees, both parties can be assured the devices are enterprise grade quality. However, BYOD brings consumer-grade devices into the company and their quality and condition is not necessarily optimal for enterprise use. Devices that break and are no longer under warranty cause headaches for the IT department.”BYOD introduces much complexity to an organisation. According to Barker, bigger organisations have a greater numbers of users who travel or are located in different physical locations. “The more mobile and dispersed an organisation, the more personal devices become a necessity for keeping everyone connected,” he says.

3. TRUST & MDM

Trust is a big issue related to BYOD. As Zimbizi points out, problems can arise with regards to data ownership. “If corporate data sits on a user device, can the user be trusted to handle the information confidentially? And who actually owns the data?” he asks. And with laws such as the Protection ofPersonal Information Act (POPI), he says, keeping customer information safe is becoming a huge priority for organisations – how will they ensure these laws are adhered to if the data resides on personal employee devices?“Particularly with POPI coming into effect, issues such as data ring-fencing and information ownership come to the fore. When talking BYOD, the focus tends to fall on smart devices – but these are relatively simply dealt with by Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions,” explains Potgieter. “The real issue is an old one: the corporate IT nightmare of data on laptops has become a lot more complex. When taking control, you need a strategy to deal with personal information intermixed with corporate data on the endpoint.” Hall believes we are so concerned with “Big Brother” these days. “Many cynical employees view MDM systems, that play a crucial role in enterprise data security, as just another way for management to look over their shoulders. Therefore, it is important for organisations to build a layer of trust into the relationship between employees (users) and the employer (controller).”He believes BYOD must be seen as a strategic pillar that holds up enterprise mobility strategy. “If BYOD and MDM policies are not implemented and managed correctly, the organisation’s mobile apps are likely to fail.”

3. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Potgieter believes cost allocation used to be simple: produce a phone bill and allocate corporate usage for refund. “However, how do we do that in a clean and accurate way with bandwidth? And if you implement a monitoring/reporting solution for mobile bandwidth, how do you ensure user privacy for non-corporate usage?” he asks. He says there are solutions for this, but it tends to be an overlooked part of the equation.According to Barker, supporting BYOD without a budget increase or without additional headcount allocated to the helpdesk can be a big obstacle for management to overcome.Fletcher believes the ability to support the diversity of devices on the network, given that one person may have two to three devices that they connect to the network, could have a negative effect on an older system if the network can’t support it. “Additionally, some devices may not work on the company’s systems, as such, that needs to be taken into consideration.”Ultimately, Fletcher believes, the organisation needs to have a clear understanding of how BYOD will benefit their business and if in fact there is a need to accommodate this trend. “With this understanding they will be able to make practical decisions on how to best approach it, and if this is done incorrectly, it could have a negative effect on the organisation. So if you invest in it without identifying its objectives, the inventory costs may be large.”

4. AVOIDING PROBLEMS

When it comes to dealing with the negative aspects BYOD can bring to an organisation, there are many solutions, such as a clear strategy, policy enforcement and MDM.Hall believes a clear strategy is imperative. “Build a path and take it step by step.” Firstly, Hall suggests, starting with the business process and take it from there. “Having a clear understanding of the business process and its touchpoints goes a long way in innovating. Start with small apps and get user input along the way. Don’t wait until the end to test the user experience.”Secondly, don’t get tied up in the technology, he says. “Technological innovation will always happen, so instead of looking to implement the latest hot technology, look for a platform or end-to-end solution provider that can cater to the holistic mobilisation of business processes.”Barker believes it best that the enterprises’ BYOD solution is standard across the organisation and across all geographies and that it be scalable. “It has to work consistently across your entire network; whether a user connects to your wired and wireless network or roams to cellular 3G/4G and connects over VPN,” he says.According to van Wyk, standardisation is actually paramount because even though some organisations may claim they have a BYOD policy there has to be some level of standardisation. “You normally find that where businesses have BYOD policies, what they actually have is a choice of this or that device and OS. There is normally not a free-for-all where any device can be brought in and supported on the company network. The restrictions make it possible for companies to support, maintain and operate with the basic requisite functionality to make the environment beneficial to employees and ultimately the organisation,” he says.

5. POLICIES

Zimbizi believes the organisation has to implement a policy that defi nes how to manage information. “Policies need to be compliant with the law, up-to-date and relevant,” he says.According to Potgieter, one of the most important aspects is the policy formed around BYOD. “It needs significant human resources and legal input. Additionally, the capabilities of the IT department to control and report on personal devices and data need to be extremely clear to end users, and users have to have the choice of opting out. To avoid possible litigation, there should also be a meticulous ‘paper trail’ when users opt in to the BYOD solution.”In other words, he says, the value of MDM solutions is coming to the fore, particularly in the mid-market. BYOD should be synonymous with an organisation’s MDM policy, agrees Barker. “The focus of MDM’smost recent evolution is known as containerisation: a separate zone is carved out on the user’s device, in which authorised enterprise apps and personal data reside.”Fletcher believes it’s about weighing the pros and cons.”These will differ per organisation. As mentioned above, it needs to make practical sense for the business to accommodate this trend but one aspect is clear – this trend can’t be stopped, so it’s about working and accommodating it in a more contained format.

 

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