Are Enterprises Getting A Grip On BYOD?

The more I read about companies denying the potential of mobile Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and their reluctance to embrace it the more I am reminded of the story about the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke (dam) trying to stop the water flooding through! A new survey from research analyst Gartner reveals that BYOD is the biggest concern for enterprise mobile security – to which my response would be “no shit, Sherlock!”

It’s like any new technology. IT departments go pale and start to shake when first confronted with the new possibilities but when approached in a sensible and level headed manner the upstarts are seen as highly beneficial – nay, almost mandatory – and the world returns to normal.

Proliferation of mobile devices

Gartner’s survey shows the rapid proliferation of consumer mobile devices is changing the traditional IT environment in enterprises, as 90 per cent of enterprises have already deployed mobile devices, with smartphones being most widely deployed, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Eighty-six per cent of enterprises surveyed said that they plan to deploy media tablets this year.

Respondents came from organizations with 500 or more employees and an in-house data centre in the United States; the United Kingdom; Germany; Australia; Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC); and Japan. The survey was conducted in October through November of 2011.

The survey centred on the deployment status of, and plans for mobile device adoption; bring your own device (BYOD) policy; and investment in data centres and adopting technology drivers, including hosted virtual desktop (HVD) for enterprise mobility.

Growing demand for mobile use

“Healthy growth in smartphone and media tablet shipments over the next five years will enable a much higher level of IT consumerization than is currently possible,” said Chae-Gi Lee, research director at Gartner. “Enterprises should recognize this and look to ‘mobile enable’ their IT infrastructure for employees to meet the growing demand for mobile device use in the enterprise IT environment.”

A further impact of consumerisation is the proliferation of BYOD in enterprises. Gartner’s survey found that many enterprises are allowing personal mobile devices to connect to the enterprise network. BYOD demand was higher in the BRIC countries where more Generation Y (Gen Y) employees are working. With the proliferation of BYOD, there are many security issues for enterprises to consider before they invest in mobile computing.

According to the survey, the top issues were “use of privately owned devices” and “deployment of new enterprise mobile platforms.” Enterprises should focus on mobile data protection (MDP), network access control (NAC), and mobile device management (MDM) tools to support their BYOD and new enterprise mobile platform efforts. These technology factors are essential to establish a standard mobile platform for enterprises.

Technical support

Many of the enterprises surveyed indicated that they provide technical support for personal devices — 32 percent of smartphones, 37 percent of tablets and 44 percent of laptops. However, the results around technical support varied significantly between regions, with 28 percent of respondents in non-BRIC countries receiving technical support for connecting personal devices versus 44 percent in BRIC countries.

So what is your experience of organisations allowing mobile BYOD and personal mobile use?

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Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.