The rise in popularity of BYOD mobile devices has been both a blessing and a curse for IT departments.
BYOD has been transformative in allowing many companies to leverage employee resources for maximum efficiency and impact. Work tasks need not be confined to the corporate computer anymore; they can now be accessed at any time, on any device. Employees love the sharing and overall freedom that BYOD devices, file sync and share, and public cloud usage all bring to their work environment.
When applications are brought into the picture, however, things get more complicated. Many mobile apps enable data sharing and increased productivity. Employees can find a third-party app that does exactly what they need (usually for free), and they can also manage their own technology issues.
IT’s frustration is that these apps remain outside of the company’s purview and typically are set up using an employee’s personal account. The result is that, simply by trying to make their work lives easier, employees place important types of corporate data outside of IT’s control.
Storing a key document in a personal account in the cloud seems like a good idea. It gives the employee access at any time and from any device. For example, the employee might be able to work on a document using his smartphone immediately after an epiphany hits during a morning jog. But what if that document is of a proprietary nature, and the employee shares it with a few friends from other companies to get their opinions? An employee’s ability to create and place data outside of a controlled storage environment opens up the firm to legal liability and to corporate governance issues.
As IT increasingly focuses on regulatory compliance, its ability to locate and control data is paramount. With third-party apps, data is not backed up or secured; and IT has little – if any – visibility into or control over this data.
For IT to succeed in navigating these new challenges, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Employees will use whatever means necessary to make their work life easier, whether or not it’s an IT- approved method. IT should realize that this is not anything personally directed at them. Like the flow of electricity or water, it’s simply the users’ path of least resistance.
- It’s a good idea to give employees options, such as offering both Apple and Android phones, and the ability to use a public cloud in addition to a corporate private cloud.
- IT needs to stay on top of the latest tech trends. Is file-sync-share no longer a cool thing? Is everyone switching to apps where they can voice record their documents? Track these advancements, and then make sure they’re integrated into approved corporate offerings in a timely manner.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you can find a third-party partner that can provide the data security, sharing, and backup features needed to implement across multiple corporate and BYOD devices, then invest in it. There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel when you can simply purchase it from a vendor, enabling your IT staff to more productively spend time managing other projects.
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