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The rise of BYOD: why flexibility needs security

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mobile device management systems are making bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies easier than ever, providing productivity, collaboration and security for Australian businesses.

A work-issued mobile phone used to be par-for-the-course when you reached a certain level in a business. And as technology grew, so did the number of devices issued to staff to improve productivity and promote flexibility.

With the ubiquity of smartphones, businesses are increasingly turning to BYOD policies to minimise their investment in devices and empower employees to work while on the go. In fact, research company Gartner has estimated half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices by 2015.

Importantly though, Gartner states that BYOD changes what companies expect from CEOS, with security the top concern. Of significant note are security concerns in the mobile environment.

In a competitive business environment, BYOD policies make sense, but having the right protections and ensuring staff are using the right software to fit in with established processes can be complex.

a woman on a mobile phone works on a laptop in a cafe

B(YOD) for benefits

Having a BYOD policy internally can have a number of benefits. Firstly, staff are working on their own devices so there’s no learning curve on how to use a tablet or a smartphone.  There is also the decrease in capital investment in technology that BYOD provides. The end result is that moving to paperless operations (which can be argued to be more efficient and less prone to human error) becomes a more cost-effective, efficient option.

However, because devices are not owned by the company, there are less controls that can be put in place around what the device is used for and what is stored on it – after all, the phone is the personal possession of an employee. It also means that if an employee leaves the business, there’s the potential for them to take valuable intellectual property and sensitive company data outside an ecosystem that protects it.

As the number of BYOD devices per employee continues to grow over the coming years, the potential for challenges in managing and securing these devices rises alongside it.

Managing mobility

At its core, a good BYOD policy and the infrastructure around it should foster three things:

  1. Productivity. Staff should be able to use their devices with ease in the course of their work
  2. Collaboration. The ability for staff to be using the same programs and enterprise apps to work with one another and provide real-time updates that can be used to drive business decisions
  3. Security. Having the ability to remotely wipe devices, protect sensitive data and limit opportunities for malicious activities by hackers

Mobile device management software, such as Telstra MDM, is increasingly being seen as helping to achieve a solution that delivers on all three fronts.

Telstra MDM removes the restrictions of cables, allowing teams to connect and collaborate from anywhere they have access to the internet, while automated monitoring of devices helps the business to fulfil its security, legal, regulatory and HR compliance requirements.

Flexibility and connectivity

Products like Telstra MDM don’t just stop at security, however. They take the thinking out of implementing a BYOD policy by providing a holistic service that integrates with existing systems to allow connectivity with ease when it comes to email, Wi-Fi and individual virtual private networks.

It also allows you to create your own enterprise app store so employees get access to productivity tools that are used across the organisation, stopping multiple tools being used for the same processes or types of work. It also allows businesses to push updates to apps within the enterprise store, meaning staff are no longer required to come back to base for updates from IT.

The verdict

BYOD isn’t an up-and-coming trend that businesses should consider – it’s already here, and in many Australian businesses. But whether it’s as simple as having work emails on a smartphone, or as complex as being able to update sensitive client information or revenue forecasts into the cloud, there needs to be safeguards. Safeguards that don’t inhibit the true aims of BYOD – to make staff more productive, more collaborative and more able to be mobile in their day-to-day work. Telstra MDM is one method that’s providing this balance.

Looking to improve your business with mobility?

Learn more about Telstra Mobile Device Management.

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