Q & A with Brian Timperley: Enterprise Mobility

By 15th Jul 2019 Blog

How should businesses be handling the enterprise mobility trend?

For local businesses, the shift towards enterprise mobility is very positive and brings with it major opportunities for cost savings, increased productivity, heightened employee engagement and more. Business leaders should, therefore, be approaching enterprise mobility and BYOD with an open-minded and innovative outlook while remaining attentive to the risks and taking a proactive approach to security in particular. The way in which businesses choose to handle enterprise mobility and the changing demands of an increasingly tech-savvy workforce will arguably play a major role in business growth – and ultimately, success or failure in a disruptive global market.

What are the greatest stumbling blocks? And the biggest benefits?

The widespread move towards enhanced enterprise mobility certainly leaves companies vulnerable to data leaks, theft of valuable intellectual property, employee negligence and malware. While companies can build systems to protect networks from outside threats, the greatest threat arguably always originates from within. This is particularly relevant when working with employees who handle sensitive information and who wield high-level/executive decision-making powers. Moreover, given the use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, it is now fairly easy for hackers to identify who these individuals are within any business – and then target attacks around their mobile devices and applications.

Yet if the security factor can be intelligently and actively managed, there are numerous advantages that come with embracing forms of BYOD.

Firstly, local businesses don’t necessarily have the resources to standardize around top tier hardware – especially when dealing with SMEs and startups. Yet with smartphones and other mobile devices, most employees already have their own – which saves companies from having to invest in such devices. Indeed, before the shift to BYOD, a company would have had to acquire the right hardware to ensure that its staff was on email and online around the clock. Now, most employees are voluntarily plugged in 24/7, using their own hardware – and thereby removing the capital expenditure requirements for employers.

In addition, allowing staff to use their own devices arguably boosts morale, promotes employee engagement and enhances productivity. For example, a CITO Research report showed that more than half (53%) of all workers polled feel they’re more productive when they have their own devices at work. Why? Because employees are familiar with their own devices and interfaces, this eliminates the technology learning curve and boosts overall usability. Notably, a Frost & Sullivan study recorded the actual time savings related to BYOD: using personal devices for work activities reportedly saves employees 58 minutes each day, providing a 34% increase in productivity!

How important is it to have a mobile device management solution in place?

It is absolutely critical to have a robust and carefully considered mobile device management solution (MDM) in place. Essentially, MDM enables business leaders and managers to better integrate, manage and secure mobile devices within the corporate network. Without MDM, companies cannot provide strong and reliable mobile security – thereby leaving critical data and IP vulnerable to insider threats as well as external attacks.  Also, given the emerging data privacy regulations such as POPI and GDPR, companies that fall victim to mobile data leaks can face crippling penalties as well as reputational damage.

Furthermore, without MDM there is limited oversight over which employees have a mobile device with access to company data and resources. IT managers cannot determine which employee is using what device, or which platform. As a result, there is no detailed ‘inventory’ of devices that contain sensitive company data and IP. Importantly, MDM also enables IT managers to wipe devices and revoke access to IP and sensitive data/networks if an employee leaves the company without notice.

Security is a major concern – what are your top tips for mitigating risks?

In addition to robust MDM, we believe that an overlooked and yet easy-to-implement strategy is encryption. Often, people fail to recognise how easy it is for someone to access all the data on their phone or laptop if it’s lost or stolen – and encryption prevents this access. Parallel to individual ‘ignorance’, companies likewise underemphasize how critical this data is, and how easily it may be lost or compromised. Yet as the mobility trend gains global momentum, there are now various software tools and applications available that can enable remote wiping and encryption – tools that every growing enterprise simply cannot afford to overlook!

Any examples you can share of how things can go wrong?

With employees and executives now working remotely more often, hackers are looking to find ways to capitalise on the trend. One malicious strategy is for hackers to leave a memory stick in a driveway or restaurant, for example, which contains malware. When the targeted employee picks it up and inserts it in his laptop or tablet, the device then becomes infected – and in turn, valuable enterprise data and information becomes compromised. Another simple example is an employee leaving her smartphone or laptop behind in a restaurant or public place: if the device is stolen and is not encrypted, any enterprise data and IP on the device becomes vulnerable to theft and misuse. Hackers may also find ways to use the compromised device to access specific corporate networks.

How does one create a consistent user experience, which, in turn, ups productivity?

To begin with, companies must first and foremost provide or develop applications that employees will genuinely want to use on a daily basis. What these applications look like will ultimately depend on various elements such as industry, job function, device form, etc. It is critical to emphasize, however, that based on the rapid consumerization of IT, most employees have become tech-savvy and now expect instant, seamless access to top tier applications, platforms, and data. For many companies, embracing a successful enterprise mobility strategy will require research and user testing to determine how to maximize user experience and mobile adoption. In short, this will demand investment, innovation and a strong focus on employee usability that, in turn, translates into an enhanced customer experience!

With so much talk about BYOD, what are some of the alternatives and why should these be considered?

The two primary alternatives currently being explored are Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) and Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE). CYOD is one of the more recent approaches and refers to when companies give employees an approved set of devices from which to choose from. The key benefits of CYOD are that it can reduce hardware costs as compared to COPE. Employees are still in control of their own devices, but the support and procurement standards are more controlled and streamlined due to the more limited device options. Regarding disadvantages, workers may be discontent with their options; it does not eliminate hardware costs and repair and replacement becomes more complex.

Naturally, bigger and more established companies are more inclined to adopt the COPE model, as it maximizes control over the shift to enterprise mobility. Employees are given smartphones that are paid for by the company, meaning the business maintains ownership. There is still an element of flexibility, as enterprises can offer employees various options. It’s a more natural choice for financial institutions, legal companies, and healthcare providers, for example, which have to comply with complex legal and regulatory standards.

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