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Reality Check: BYOD demands mobile device management

Editor’s NoteWelcome to our weekly Reality Check column. We’ve gathered a group of visionaries and veterans in the mobile industry to give their insights into the marketplace.

A few months back, I used this forum to touch upon bring your own device (BYOD)—employees using their own mobile devices for work-related activities. Since then, calling BYOD an unstoppable global trend, the Aberdeen Group published information based on several years of their own research stating that between January 2008 and July 2012, the percentage of respondent organizations that permitted employee-owned mobile devices to be used for business purposes grew from 10% to more than 80%, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 70%  (The Aberdeen Group; Enterprise Mobility Management 2012: The Global Perspective. August, 2012).

Parallel discussions around BYOD are now focusing on managing the technical risk, usually through the use of mobile device management (MDM) software or providers. MDM offers similar functionality to the group policies within a Windows Active Directory and generally allows your IT staff to determine what a device can or cannot do. If there are any policy failures, MDM locks out the device or wipes all the data from it. This can also help if a user reports a device lost or stolen—IT can wipe the device remotely as long as it has an Internet connection.

But one drawback of MDM was that it did not separate corporate from personal data and enforced policies across the entire device, meaning that if a device was locked out or wiped clean, the device owner lost access to their personal information as well as corporate data. Many MDM providers are now taking a wider view of the issue and looking at “containerization” of information.

Separate encrypted folders or wrappers can be set up for sensitive corporate data and only these areas are controlled by corporate security policies rather than the entire device. There are various third party solutions that can be used to create these secure areas as well as making sure that data transmission to the device and access to email, calendar, intranets and contacts are secure.

Obviously, containerization is only one aspect of a more comprehensive and complicated BYOD and MDM strategy. As with all aspects of mobility, the key question should be about risk mitigation. Ask yourself how much risk is involved with BYOD, especially in comparison with other information channels, and then see how MDM can help you accommodate BYOD within your organization.

Fernando Alvarez leads Capgemini’s recently launched Mobile Solutions Global Service Line.

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