The average worker is now carrying 3.5 “mobile devices” on average, according to the iPass Q1 2012 Global Mobile Workforce Report. Most are carrying those devices right into the workplace, expecting the same seamless computing experience previously granted via a laptop or desktop.
It’s time for organizations to welcome the BYOD movement with open arms, as it’s showing no signs of stopping. According to Vertic (a digital ad agency), over the next five years, tablet shipments will increase at an annual growth rate of 48%, with shipments rising from 13.6 million units in 2011 to 96.3 million in 2016.
The issue isn’t “if” you should allow employees to use personal devices for work-related communications and file sharing, the question is “how”? How do you give employees the access they need to the content they want, without sacrificing security?
It’s a serious challenge facing enterprises and government agencies, but one that’s easily overcome with the right research and the right solution in place. Here are eight must-haves to help you overcome BYOD challenges, while enabling your growing mobile workforce:
- Heterogeneous platform support: While you may be an exclusive iOS and iPad shop today, who knows what the future will bring. It’s important to be able to support any devices that may enter the fray, including Android, Windows, and BlackBerry.
- Automated encryption: To lower data breach risks, your file sharing/collaboration solution of choice should encrypt data both in transit and at rest, across all mobile devices – whether in a public or private cloud configuration.
- Anytime, anywhere access: The odds are good that documents exist in multiple places across your enterprise, whether in SharePoint, Windows File Servers, or another enterprise content management system. Ideally, you want users to be able to instantly view, edit, and share documents via a single, secure access point – from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone – without the need for a virtual private network (VPN).
- Around-the-clock file protection: Extend your organization’s established content/file monitoring policies by integrating with commercially available data loss protection and antivirus solutions, including those you already have in place. An enterprise-grade file sharing solution should sync with your existing security policies, blocking and/or quarantining file transfers that violate established rules.
- Just say “no” to Dropbox and others: A 2012 survey by Computacenter found that 84% of employees secretly access consumer cloud collaboration solutions in the workplace because their own organizations don’t provide effective alternatives. Don’t be left in the dark about where your confidential files are being sent and to whom. Provide a proven, enterprise-class Dropbox alternative that allows you to prohibit the use of insecure workarounds. (Full disclosure, my company, Accellion, provides enterprise file-sharing solutions that compete with Dropbox and others).
- Required enterprise integrations: Ensure that the solution you’re evaluating will support your existing infrastructure, applications, and security processes, such as LDAP, Active Directory, single sign-on, authentication, FTP, SMTP, and data leak protection.
- Centralized IT management: Easily configure BYOD user permissions and manage user policies and profiles, including role-based access controls from a single, web-based interface.
- Complete tablet control: A survey by Credant Technologies found that more than 8,000 devices were left at the largest U.S. airports last year alone – with the majority forgotten at security checkpoints and in restrooms. To make sure that your enterprise data doesn’t get into the wrong hands, it’s important to ask about remote monitoring, logging, and wiping capabilities, to provide much-needed visibility and control should a device be lost or stolen.
The time is now to give users the ubiquitous access they want from their cherished mobile devices, while extending tight security to every file and every device within your organization. The BYOD movement is on – embrace it.