The influx of personal smartphones, tablets and laptops that connect with and use corporate resources is challenging companies to walk a fine line between channeling the benefits of employees purchasing and using their own mobile devices and making these devices secure and cost–effective enough for the enterprise.
The BYOD trend holds immense potential to transform business, enable agility and encourage innovative ways of interacting with customers and business partners. But the proliferation of myriad smart mobile devices creates complexities that are overwhelming many organizations. With limited control over and vast choice of mobility devices, today's organizations face considerable challenges in protecting data, ensuring security, providing, complying with regulations and lowering IT costs to manage a BYOD environment. The key is to formulate a strategy that approaches BYOD holistically, responding to employee expectations while at the same time fulfilling business requirements.
Transitioning to a BYOD model should be phased in over time. Organizations need to mitigate security risks, such as inappropriate usage or loss of corporate data and the ensuing financial and legal implications. Establishing effective governance mechanisms to ensure data privacy and security can be challenging when embracing a BYOD philosophy. In addition, advances in consumer technology and device heterogeneity are creating complexities that can undoubtedly turn into nightmares for IT if not handled properly.
Organizations should deconstruct traditional workspaces, using virtualization to decouple dependencies among hardware, OS, applications and user states found in traditional desktop configurations. This gives them greater flexibility to stream the right set of user profile, data and applications on-demand, at the right performance level and in a secure manner to any device, based on employee roles and IT requirements.
For the foreseeable future, companies should take a limited BYOD approach (the middle path), with finite lists of supported devices that are easier and less costly to manage. A limited–BYOD infrastructure that is platform and OS–agnostic will help minimize security breaches and the organizational resources needed to support and manage employee–owned devices. Deploying the right combination of mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and mobile application development platform (MADP) solutions can help organizations secure and quickly update business apps on employee devices and perform compliance reporting, all while providing employees the flexibility they demand, resulting in improved productivity and higher satisfaction.
Essential to the formulation of a BYOD strategy is understanding employee roles and how they relate to the use of mobile devices at work. Organizations should group users into broad categories that consider the kind of work they do on a daily basis and the necessary IT requirements to support them. Ideally, BYOD should be rolled out only to qualifying employees. The strategy should factor in the nature of the business and industry in which an organization operates to identify how it can stay compliant, especially on data security/privacy and usage mandates. It should also specify the kind of device configurations, preferred vendors and brands that support the organization's business needs.
Unlike previous waves of technology change, BYOD promises to pervade all parts of the business. Proactive organizations that embrace this trend and mold it in suitable ways to benefit the business will gain the critical lead to out–perform the competition.
We hope that as retailers define (or refine) their mobile strategies, they will be able to use these insights as inputs into the decision – making process.