Lessons for SMES as they Embrace the BYOD Revolution

By Manoj Bhoola

By Manoj Bhoola, Director: D&T and Mobility at SAP Africa

Just like mobile analytics, big data, the internet, and social networks changed the way companies do business, so the adoption of mobile devices has become a catalyst for change in corporations and small-to-medium-enterprises (SMEs).

Smartphones and tablets are increasingly being used for more than just leisure activities, as mobile functionality has become a key driver for employees to start using their personal devices to access work files and programs from home or on the road.

Data analytics firm, Strategy Analytics predicts that global smartphones purchased for business use by enterprises and individual users for business purposes increased by 24 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2014.

Enterprise mobility boosts employee productivity and also assists in bringing down capital expenditure because companies are able to leverage devices that employees have already acquired. The latter also has the added benefit of workers taking better care of said devices since they bought them themselves.

There is a downside to this uptake in mobile connectivity at the office, as having a lot more devices gaining access to sensitive and sometimes even highly classified corporate data increases security risks for threats such as espionage, data theft and device hacking. 

In case of the latter, IT needs to assume complete control over the mobile devices and applications installed on them. For this to happen, there needs to be a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place and a secure mobile device management platform that includes mobile device management, mobile app security and mobile content management capabilities.

With a comprehensive device management solution, businesses can manage a wide range of mobile devices in the cloud or on premise, quickly detect compromised mobile devices, help ensure compliance with security policies, and manage devices throughout their life cycle.

In addition, mobile content management allows users to securely share files, view mobile documents, present and collaborate with co-workers on corporate content.

Key considerations for a successful BYOD implementation include:

•           Companies need to be able to manage data and not mobile devices, while employees need the flexibility to choose any device and mobile operating system (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry).

•           Organisations must reduce the impact of BYOD on its corporate security and risk to legal, HR, or regulatory issues such as being compliant with the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) bill. 

•           Ideally, the secure mobile platform needs to be able to separate personal data from corporate data. This will make it easy to securely wipe the personal devices of employees who leave the company, without the user’s personal info being affected.

•           Businesses need to reduce the corporate liability associated with potential private-data impact.

•           The BYOD policy must improve the ability of the company to fulfil any legal obligations that are associated with e-discovery requests in lawsuits or criminal procedures.

•           Companies must ensure full security when it comes to corporate data, which needs to be encrypted and password-protected to ensure that only employees have access to the data, especially in situations where multiple users have access to an employee’s personal device.

•           Businesses need to be able to protect corporate data in the event of a device being lost, stolen, or used by non-employees.

The modern office faces an unprecedented level of IT security risks and requires additional data protection as it embraces a BYOD policy. Businesses should not have to worry about whether valuable data may fall into the wrong hands because there are solutions that assist them in alleviating those concerns.


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