IT departments certainly didn’t embrace the BYOD trend initially, but there are clear signs that they're adapting to the reality that mobile devices can and are being used far more productively than originally thought they could be.
The BYOD (bring your own device) trend took off with the release of Apple’s iPhone and iPad as executives and others found they could the same mobile devices they used at home for real work.
But the popularity and very nature has evolved, says Eric Carlson, a Partner with the Mobile Research Council (MRC), a membership organization that advises and facilitates discussion of issues related to the deployment of mobile apps and devices. The MRC is a joint venture of Propelics, a mobile strategy and app development, firm and Lopez Research, a high tech consulting firm.
“Initially IT saw BYOD as a way to lower costs. And companies spent time and resources developing BYOD policies for employees who, for example, were issued a corporate smartphone, but wanted secure access to email,” Carlson told TabTimes.
“But as the use cases have expanded and employees are doing more with their smartphones and tablets, IT is questioning whether they want to devote a lot of resources to supporting a variety of devices and platforms they’re not sure they can keep secure.”
It all comes down to the use case, how the devices are going to be used, Carlson added. At companies where the security risk is relatively low, a more liberal BYOD policy is easier. But in regulated industries like finance and healthcare, it gets more expensive and complicated to support more devices in a secure way.
(Managing mobile apps and devices securely and how tablets can replace notebooks are two of the key topics at the Tablet Strategy conference in New York on May 6, 2014. You may be eligible for a free pass if you qualify as a Tablet/Mobile Manager. If you don't qualify, there are still a few tickets available at $175 each, breakfast and lunch included. Check conditions and register on the registration page.)
Security, mobile and balance
Another issue when it comes to security is balance. Carlson says traditionally, IT typically takes a blanket approach when it comes to security and applies a high level of security or standard level to every endpoint that connects to the corporate network.
But that approach can be overkill in some cases and directly affect usability.
“Graduated security is a big topic at the MRC,” he says. For example, he mentions a retailer that required all apps have a 9-pin security code and connect to a VPN. When this was applied to a very simple app designed for customers to use in a store, it rendered the app “useless” and rarely used because mistyped and incorrect logins kept customers locked out.
Later, a simpler 4-pin code with direct access made the app much more accessible.