By Craig Freer, Head of Product: Enterprise, Vox Telecom
There are an estimated 11 million smart phones and 5 million tablets in South Africa. Moreover, 75% of employees are bringing these devices to work or using them for work purposes. It stands to reason, then, that companies should seriously consider implementing some form of BYOD, or Bring-Your-Own-Device policy to ensure that the company information their employees are carrying in their pockets is protected.
A recent survey by Deloitte and ITWeb has shown that although more than 90% of respondents can use their mobile devices to access emails, very few can access documents or file systems. Most respondents say that they would prefer to use their devices to view critical documents such as reports, or to capture information.
Rather than see devices as potential threats, companies should start mining these devices and turn into powerful tools that they can use to their advantage.
There are three layers to an effective BYOD strategy: device management, expense management and app enablement.
Mobile device management (MDM) is the fundamental building block of any BYOD strategy. It also allows companies to secure employee devices, and the information they contain.
MDM allows the company to perform functions such as remotely wiping stolen devices, and to restrict access to sensitive information. The beauty of mobile device management is that these systems are software and device agnostic – which means that security rules can be applied across multiple devices and systems from a central point. That means that employees can use whichever device they prefer – and that they are most proficient in.
Of course, these devices mean that employees are likely to make use of the company Wi-Fi, or even subsidised data packages from their employer – which can be subject to abuse. Adding an expense management layer to your BYOD strategy allows companies to not only restrict expenditure but curb abuse of company bandwidth.
For most companies, providing employees with access to important apps proves a challenge. According to the Deloitte survey, the vast majority of employees rely on a central IT department to develop functionality they require on their various devices, which may also serve to explain why roughly 40% of respondents say they have no access to enterprise apps whatsoever. But, by adding a middleware layer to all employee devices, that allows them to access crucial company information on the go, employees can truly unlock the full potential and benefits of BYOD – securely, and without inundating the IT department with hundreds of devices to set up individually. Thus, when an employee receives a new tablet, they can automatically be linked to crucial sites – such as the intranet or sales presentations in the cloud – allowing them to start work immediately, and with all the company tools at their disposal.
BYOD is not only about restriction – it’s about enablement. Employees are already bringing their devices to work and if employers stick their heads in the sand to avoid dealing with them, they won’t only be vulnerable to security breaches – they’d also be overlooking powerful tools that can improve efficiencies and productivity in their company.