Lessons for SMES as they Embrace the BYOD Revolution
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.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”