Published on in Reshaping Business
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Guest post by Bernard Parsons – CEO at Becrypt 

If I was to sit down with the CIO/CTO of an enterprise, I would ask them “what is your direction of travel? Are you successfully embracing BYOD? Does your IT department have control of mobile security?”

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I would expect some interesting responses, and quite often I find that they are focusing on “how do we let the new consumer technology in” versus asking the hidden question  “is there any additional business value to be had from this!” Let’s be honest, it’s tough to say no to bringing in your own technology, especially if your CEO is part of that gang applying pressure.  I think it’s also a legitimate pressure, as employees now have a new relationship with technology – it’s part of their personal life and how they expect to work!

However, we do really need to answer the question about how it adds value. Any new technology adoption needs to consider the cost and risk versus the business value.

With the recently coined consumerisation 2.0 concept,  I am pleased to see recognition that businesses are increasingly asking the value question. They are challenging – is BYOD the right model? They are focusing increasingly on how they should be transforming their business models to make the most of mobile technology.  But  there is a long way to go – in a recent study we saw that even with corporate sourced devices, just 30% of companies have widespread use of enterprise mobile apps by employees. (Source: 2013 InformationWeek 500 ranking) . Value today is low.

The risk part of the equation is high

With 60% of security breaches being from stolen devices (Source: Poneman Study), I still think the risk part of the equation is high. Some businesses are addressing this by being specific about what is and isn’t allowed, and some are providing limited options through – CYOD model (choose your own device). In time I believe we will see a pendulum effect, with IT gaining control back.

Eventually we will see the uptake of newer technology which better supports domain separation on devices by leveraging hardware extensions creating security dividers between home and work life. This will allow greater integration of Enterprise applications to drive down the cost of doing business and increase productivity – pushing up value. Then it becomes about extending services across an array of devices, making sure you have a set of integrated applications. You then have an opportunity to balance risk whilst achieving real business value.

What do we do whilst the technology catch’s up?

Many businesses are on the early part of the maturity curve, and we are also waiting for the technology to catch-up with enterprise requirements, having be born of consumer requirements. So I think the answer today from a technology perspective is about providing integrated management to deliver end point protection and management across all platforms adopted.

It’s about a solution that can manage iOS out of the same platform as Windows and deliver a policy that strikes the right balance of risk and productivity for an organisation’s own risk appetite.  Many security controls today, such as encryption, are mature and solved problems, the focus now has to be on managing and minimising the cost of ownership, optimising user experience and dare I say it security should be transparent!

All views expressed are the author’s own.

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