The bring-your-own-device movement is well on its way to fundamentally reshaping enterprise communications. So why do so few organizations seem to care about device management? A fairly wide gap formed almost immediately between BYOD user excitement and enterprise policy engagement, and it's only going to expand.
Entrenched employee attitudes absolving them of responsibility create problems for IT, and many organizations let worker preferences overwhelm clear-cut business priorities. The central problem with BYOD is a company's capacity to show that its cares – not only about the ways that BYOD can be hazardous, but about creating strategies that cater to worker preferences while keeping security at the forefront.
BYOD is clearly important to employees. One recent LANDESK survey found that the average European worker spends more on BYOD every year than he or she does on tea of coffee. They care about having the devices, but not protecting the data stored on them.
"It's not my problem" was a common refrain in a recent survey by Absolute Software about data security in the mobile enterprise. More than a quarter of those surveyed said they felt there should be no penalties for leaked or lost corporate data. Additionally, more than one third of respondents who lost their mobile devices said that they didn't make any changes to their security habits, while 59 percent estimated that their corporate data was barely worth more than the cost of replacing a phone.
Who is to blame for BYOD problems?
It's up to companies to exhibit the same passion for data security that employees have for using their own smartphones. Of those who acknowledged a penalty for data loss might be in order, most received nothing more than a slap on the wrist from employers, and often much less – 21 percent had a talking-to, 30 percent had to replace their lost device themselves and 34 percent reported that "nothing" happened when they lost company information. This reflects poorly on companies, observed Absolute mobile enterprise data expert Tim Williams, and will continue unless companies get proactive about BYOD management.
"If firms don't set clear policies that reflect the priority of corporate data security, they can't expect employees to make it a priority on their own," Williams said.
Establishing and enforcing BYOD practices is a good first step. Regulations have to acknowledge the ways personnel use BYOD and avoid limiting productivity as much as possible. There are several technological tools that can help a company secure mobile devices behind the scenes. Investing in managed infrastructure and IT support services provides a scalable, adaptable and continuous resource for effective network monitoring and data management.