Gadgets Undermine Corporate Security And Efficiency

Organisations are struggling to keep up with staff needing to access their desktop, email or corporate information on the move as well as the growing trend of employees choosing to use their own personal devices, such as netbooks, iPads and smartphones which is likely to increase after Christmas as more non-corporate gadgets enter the workplace.

A generation of technology-minded users are finding a way around internal IT policies, not for intentional misuse or non-productive entertainment, but in order to work in ways they find most effective. However, in the process they are often breaching data guidelines, undermining security, compromising desktop and data integrity or in some cases, even breaking the law.

Research found 43 per cent of office workers use three or four different devices in the course of their working week, including desktop PCs, laptops and, netbooks, smartphones. Two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents admitted that this is either ‘often’ or ‘always’ on devices not owned by their employer. Only 20 per cent of respondents never work on a personal device.

The research also found that 68 per cent of respondents are given no choice about the kinds of devices they use to work on and connect to the office network, and are therefore finding their own ways to work on devices of their choosing.

We are all living far more digital lives now. The way we interact and communicate is changing all the time, and the line is blurring between our work and personal lives. Nowhere is that more obvious than in our use of technology. People who might use an iPad or iPhone as a personal device are starting to realise they can make their lives much easier to manage if they pick up work email, or synchronise work and personal calendars on the same device.

That may make sense to the individual, but this trend is the thin end of a wedge which is creating a lot of problems for employers. Not only does it become increasingly difficult to keep track of software licences, but there is also a steady creep of data and intellectual property out of the organisation. If that data is sensitive customer information, a company could even be breaking the law.

The survey found only 14 per cent of respondents now work from a single location, meaning the UK workforce is very often on the move, splitting its time across home, public locations and multiple work sites.

However, working across multiple sites, on multiple devices also means staff can’t always work as effectively as they should, with 60 per cent of respondents saying they cannot always access every application or document they need when working in this way.

There seems to be a real gulf between how employees want, or actually need to work and the ways in which they are set up to work. Organisations need to look at technologies and solutions that enable users to work with the on-demand access and flexibly they require while mitigating risk and inefficiency.

We find more and more companies are adopting user virtualisation technology to separate the user data from the desktop, enabling an employee to have a ‘follow me’ personality across multiple devices, platforms and delivery technologies – all while ensuring a compliant desktop. This then allows users to access everything they need, or want – from important applications to their own personal desktop wallpaper, without compromising security or integrity, no matter where or how they access their desktop.

The research found 80 per cent of respondents said a personalised look and feel is important to them and must be mirrored between their work computer and their own devices.

Simon Townsend is technical director at AppSense.