How inclusive is your BYOD policy?

When companies say that they are going to implement a Bring your own device (BYOD) policy, allowing employees to use their own personal devices (smartphones, tables and even laptops in some cases); what do they actually mean?

What exactly is covered in your BYOD policy, and what is not?  For instance, do you say that you support BYOD, but then exclude certain devices; and what do you expect your staff to be doing on their personal devices when they are using them for work purposes?

Sometimes it can be seen to be an easy and logical decision to declare an all-out Bring Your Own Device policy.  After all, your staff will undoubtedly thank you for allowing them to use their (usually) newer and higher-spec devices and your Finance department will laud your capital expenditure cost-cutting prowess; but if you suspect that your users will want to use their smartphones and tablets for more than checking email and making voice calls (on phones), then there are clearly a raft of additional factors to consider.

Let’s take these points one by one.

What do you mean by BYOD?
If BYOD means for you that an employee can bring any personal device in to the workplace and use it for business purposes, then great.  However, that is not the interpretation that many companies actually have.  What they really mean is you can bring your iPhone/iPad, and Android device, and possibly a Blackberry device; but probably not devices like Microsoft Surface RT tablets, Windows Phone devices, Google Chromebooks, Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablets, Apple MacBooks, etc.?  The truth is that many BYOD regimes are not all-inclusive and companies are compelled to exclude certain devices because enterprise mobile strategies are not always aligned with BYOD policies, meaning that mobile apps and management infrastructures are often not able to cope with BYOD.

Why should you not be able to allow any device in the workplace?  I hear you say.  These devices all use operating systems that support internet browsing and local applications and if you are embracing the concept of Consumerisation of IT, then it would be entirely logical to allow an employee to use their latest Christmas present gadget in the workplace.   A true BYOD policy should be all inclusive and IT should allow users to bring any connected device in to the workplace and expect to be able to work securely on it for work purposes.

For those of you who do want to embrace the principle of BYOD, but who are struggling with being able to execute an effective an non-restrictive policy, perhaps you should look more widely at your company’s goals and strategies for embracing mobile devices and solutions; which brings us on to the next point.

What will employees be expected to do with their personal device in a work context?
If you expect your staff to do more than use smartphones for voice calls and to pick up corporate email, then you will almost certainly want them to be able to work productively when working on a smartphone or tablet.  One of the on-going debates about mobile applications for enterprise users is whether BYOD also goes as far as Bring your own Apps.

There will undoubtedly be some apps, like Office productivity tools or web conferencing that make little impact on corporate IT security policies, but if mobile users need to have mobile access to secure enterprise systems, that is another issue.

Authentication and security are major issues to get a handle on if mobile users are expected to access corporate systems across the firewall.  So too is the state of readiness of corporate applications for mobile use.  Enterprise applications like Microsoft SharePoint, for instance, have woefully poor mobile user interfaces as standard.

Corporate IT departments need to think about how mobile users can gain secure access to enterprise systems, content and data

Should you consider a native application or HTML5 mobile app strategy?
This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions and the answer will depend on the type of mobile enterprise application, who the intended users are likely to be and what devices they are likely to use.

As the table below shows, the best way to guarantee that your enterprise mobile applications will be compatible with your BYOD policy will be to implement mobile web applications; but in reality, native mobile applications will continue to be used for certain types of applications and target user groups:

Pros Cons
Native mobile Apps
  • Rich functionality
  • Offline access (for some apps)
  • Good for apps designed for individual users or work-groups
  • Difficult to deploy across the enterprise
  • Ensuring apps are correctly updated can cause governance issues
  • App developer may not support all mobile platforms, which may limit your ability to implement BYOD
  • Some apps may cache or save content and data on the mobile device, which should be reviewed alongside your mobile security policy
HTML5 Mobile Web Apps
  • True cross-platform mobile device compatibility
  • Feature-parity of app functionality across mobile platforms
  • Instant deployment of mobile apps and solutions to users
  • Updates for cloud-based services are applied instantly to all users
  • Potential for zero-footprint (no content or data left on the device)
  • New generation of HTML5 apps can support offline working
  • Good for mobile apps that will be used by large numbers of users
  • Users generally require an internet connection to use apps
  • Apps are accessed via the mobile device’s browser
  • Apps may not be able to take advantage of device functionality, although newer generation mobile web apps are able to do so
  • Speed and response times may be slower if accessing app over a poor connection

The newest generation of mobile web applications can behave just like native apps.  They are accessed via home screen application badges/icons and, although they are accessed via the mobile’s browser, they look and behave almost exactly like their native mobile app cousins, but with all of the advantages of being a web based application, like cross-platform compatibility, strong security, and the central purchasing, deployment and updating of licences; without having to necessitate an investment in costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

How does Azurati support all-inclusive BYOD?
Being a leading HTML5 mobile enterprise application and mobile development platform vendor, Azurati fully supports and endorses all-inclusive BYOD programmes through its mobile enterprise applications and solutions:

1. SharePoint2Go® Secure cross-platform mobile Microsoft SharePoint, allowing mobile users to access SharePoint content, data and custom web parts on any mobile device
2. Azurati Mobile Portal™ Secure mobile container that acts as an application launch-pad for HTML5 apps that require authentication and enterprise-class security.
3. Azurati ASAP® HTML5 mobile enterprise application development platform for developing secure cross-platform mobile web applications.

For further information about Azurati, visit: www.azurati.com

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BYOD to drive 35 percent of tablet purchases by 2015

Bring your own device (BYOD) is expected to drive up to 35% of tablet sales by 2015, according to Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

The seemingly unstoppable trend of using devices that are purchased for personal use within the workplace; to access enterprise systems, has been the cause of one of the greatest changes in enterprise IT in the last 20 years.

An emerging genre of professional consumers or ‘prosumers’, as some commentators have labelled them, are beginning to disrupt the long-standing relationships between enterprise IT departments and hardware suppliers.  It is no wonder that Dell and HP have started to market their laptops to a more professional-consumer centric audience.

“These sales will not be clearly defined as enterprise purchases. We expect enterprises to allow tablets as part of their buy your own device (BYOD) program. More of these tablets will be owned by consumers who use them at work,” says Gartner.

It is not just desktop and laptop manufacturers who sell in to the enterprise space who are under threat from BYOD prosumers.  Smartphone vendors, like RIM must be thinking what they have to do to stop their market share being eroded even further.

RIM’s latest financial results are proof that their past strategy of focussing on the consumer market (ie teenagers) and enterprise users has not worked; yet by abandoning the ‘consumer’ market and solely focusing on their traditional enterprise market, RIM are running the risk of having potentially more than 35% of their market being taken from them by professional consumers who purchase smartphones and tablets privately for use in the workspace.

The good news for Microsoft is that IT departments must be longing for the release of Windows 8 and the associated Windows Metro-powered tablets that will follow, as a way of regaining some control over the IT hardware and software landscape.

Of course, this is all good news for Azurati.  We would rather selfishly like to encourage multi-device and cross platform use of mobile devices in the enterprise space because it means that there will continue to be a demand for secure mobile versions of enterprise and line-of-business software solutions that can work on any smartphone, tablet or laptop device, be it IOS, Android, Blackberry, or Windows powered.

Enterprise mobility and enabling enterprise users to work productively and securely on smartphones and tablet devices is going to be the key battleground for competitiveness in the enterprise space over the next five years.

BYOD and Consumerisation of IT applications hits CIOs with a double-whammy in 2012.

The first quarter of 2012 will go down in history as being one of the most significant periods of change in corporate IT ever; hitting CIOs with the the massive uptake in private use of smart phones and tablet devices and an unstoppable trend for staff to expect to be able to bring their private mobile and tablet devices in to the workplace and to expect that they work with corporate systems.

While some CIOs have already put strategies and policies in place to address enterprise mobility issues, many have not and risk being overtaken by a flood of new platforms, formats and applications that may compromise enterprise and information security if not addressed as a priority.

Key enterprise IT trends of 2012:

BYOD (Bring your own device)
Business users bringing their own devices in to the workplace and expecting them to be able to connect to corporate email, and increasingly, corporate systems like Microsoft SharePoint, reporting dashboards, CRM systems and other enterprise applications.

Consumerisation of IT and applications
App store applications that are purchased for private use are beginning to have a changing effect on the way that business users expect enterprise applications to look and behave in a mobile world.  Standard enterprise applications either do not have mobile UIs, or have uninspiring mobile experiences that do little to engage business users.

Mobile working
The introduction of smart phones and tablet devices in to the workplace is set to lead to an explosion, according to industry analysts, like VDC Research, in mobile working and staff expecting to be able to access corporate systems as if they are in the office on any mobile device.  The key challenge for IT is going to be how to achieve this without compromising corporate security policies.

Travelling business executives and field-based staff increasingly want to be able to access corporate data and content securely on mobile devices and not have to wait to action items when they get back to the office or connect to the internet via a laptop.  CIOs and IT teams have an opportunity to embrace this new way of working and to put new policies and control mechanisms in place that ensure that mobile workers can work productively when they are away from the office and in a way that minimises the risk of security breeches if the device is misplaced or stolen.

Azurati will be launching a new solution in April called SharePoint2Go that will allow mobile workers to access Microsoft SharePoint on any mobile or tablet device with full enterprise-class security features built in so that data and information security is not compromised.  If you are interested in joining our beta programme or becoming a launch reference customer, please contact us at info@azurati.com.