Bring your own Device: How to Make the Growing Trend Work for your Small Business

Greg Hull Sapphire

Ask any IT team, and one of the biggest challenges they currently face is the smart administration of their business’ mobile devices. With a culture of mobility and remote working firmly established, the associated proliferation of Bring your own Device (BYOD) smartphones and tablets has turned classic client administration on its head.

The competitive nature of today’s business environment demands that employees have the ability to work sequentially on the same project from multiple devices and with consistent access to apps, files and rights. It also means an increased complexity in managing coherent roll-outs across entire networks. And this is only the beginning of the complications.

Traditional IT policies no longer work

Previously, the installing of solid IT policies have kept administrative away from end users, but as employees now often use their own devices for work, it is difficult to get a staff member to give up administrative rights over their own device. Additionally, the sheer variety of platforms, iOS, Android and Windows – and the fact that even established desktop systems are developing in the direction of mobility – makes it more complex.

Considering ever increasingly stricter regulations on data across Europe, driven by the recently introduced EU General Data Protection Regulation legislation, how should IT managers seek to strike a balance between less central control over devices and data security? And what questions and concerns need to be addressed when choosing a solution and developing a policy to simplistically manage both desktop and mobile devices?

Your business options: Client and mobile device management

IT teams should look at what method will best suit their business’ needs. Currently, most administrators use classic client lifecycle management (CLM) solutions to manage the administration of desktops, and will therefore often find it easier to expand these to include mobile administration options.

Although it is possible to install a dedicated mobile device management solution, the exclusive focus on mobile means they often offer no options for jointly managing desktop operating systems. As a result, achieving a single management overview can be difficult.  On the other hand, integrated approaches offer a holistic choice for complete joint management of all clients and mobile devices, allowing for a more simplistic and coherent overview.

Data compliance and protecting your business’ security

Over the past year, the Snowden affair has brought into the limelight another increasingly pressing consideration – security and data regulation. EU courts have begun to force Google to remove people’s personal data from search results on request and the European Parliament voted in favour of introducing the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Whilst the new rules are still being ironed out, it will affect the way every company and employee within Europe handles data, especially when a workforce is spread geographically across multiple territories. Now, more than ever, IT and administration teams need to evaluate their processes against the most stringent guidelines to ensure full compliance no matter where the employee is working.

Factors worth thinking about include whether the administrator can monitor a user’s movements via geo-location, or if there is a difference between private BYOD devices and company devices when deleting data and software. Tools with appropriate overviews offer an advantage in continuously ensuring compliance to company IT guidelines.

After BYOD becomes a part of your company

Before a new suite can be used to manage a mobile device, the device itself must also be integrated into the company’s network. Once enrolled, IT teams need to consider what mobile capabilities they feel need to be managed centrally, and what’s possible to leave to the discretion of employees. These will differ depending on the organisation and its priorities, but key functions that need to be considered include locking and unlocking, encryption, security settings, software configuration and setup of email accounts.

If a device is an employee’s, the ability to customise devices with functionality for the workplace using self-service options is another possibility. Companies can suggest useful, pre-approved and centrally managed apps to install through a tailored kiosk store. Not only does this offer users quick solutions, but also relieves administrators of the burden of providing routine support.

The advantages and future of BYOD

Users tend to work in parallel or sequentially when they use multiple devices. For example, a user may begin to research a topic or draft an email message on a mobile device while on the road, and then continue the task on a desktop PC at home or after arriving at the office. When different devices are used in this way for one and the same tasks, then all of them should ideally have the same set of apps, files and rights.

The use of mobile devices no doubt makes employee’s lives easier and more efficient, yet over the next few years their continued development and adoption will also create new demands on management tools and solutions. In the face of new data regulation that will usher in sweeping changes across the European business landscape, it’s essential that organisations seek this balance soon and combine the best of both worlds.

This article was written by Uwe Beikirch, managing director of baramundi software AG.

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