How Smart Companies Manage BYOD

When done right, BYOD can trim costs, reduce tech support, enhance collaboration and connectedness, and create real-time customer interactions.

But the environment also presents formidable challenges for CIOs and IT departments. For one thing, there's a need to break down silos and work with other departments to create policies, procedures and data classification schemes that fit a BYOD environment. For another, BYOD requires different knowledge and skill sets—particularly as organizations build app stores and transition to a more agile and consumer-focused software development and distribution model. In many cases, it's necessary to hire or retrain developers and other specialists so that they are focused on a consumer-centric IT model.

Finally, there's the nettlesome issue of security and data protection. It's critical to ensure that MDM, MAM and other solutions are in place to authenticate users. It's essential to lock down devices, data and apps, standardize device settings, distribute acceptable use policies, provision and de-provision devices, and provide wipe capabilities in the event that a breach occurs or a device is lost or stolen. But CIOs must also adopt a data-centric view that focuses on tracking usage and protecting intellectual property. This means using desktop virtualization, application virtualization, HTML5 and more robust endpoint controls to construct a platform that more fully supports mobile device security.

Curtis emphasizes the importance of adapting policies to BYOD but also educating employees about risks and responsibilities. "It is essential to have a code of responsibility that is understandable and manageable," he says. In many circumstances, this means formulating different polices and rules for different constituencies and groups within the organization. There's also a strong need to educate employees about how to manage devices and data and avoid lapses that can put data at risk. In some cases, it's as basic as requiring pass locks on devices and pasting data into e-mails or text messages.

In the end, Guinn says it's paramount to think through all the aspects of BYOD and use it as an opportunity to drive change. "BYOD represents a fundamentally different business and IT paradigm," he states. It can trim costs, reduce administrative and tech support, enhance collaboration and connectedness, create real-time customer interactions, alleviate corporate responsibility for device lifecycle management, and help consolidate infrastructure and tools across IT and business disciplines. However, success is far from guaranteed. As Guinn puts it, "BYOD requires a far more agile and flexible way of thinking and an entirely different IT model in order to succeed."

This article was originally published on 03-29-2013
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