What is your BYOD reality?

Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and especially its ever-intriguing nephew Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) have been hot topics already for several years. But what is your perception of current BYOD reality? Is it “plug and play BYOD”, where you take your new smartphone to work and when connecting to company WiFi, you are prompted to accept the BYOD policy, after which you will just start using company business applications? Or is it more towards “use your iPhone to access your work e-mail”?

The latter is closer to the current reality, at least according to Cormac Foster, Research Director of Gigaom Research. Based on his discussions last year with several CIOs and CISOs, the overall situation with EMM still seemed to be as follows:

  • Android was still “under evaluation”. BYOD = iOS.
  • App wrapping and secure SDKs were “on the horizon”.
  • Device management was limited to password enforcement and remote wipe.
  • Email was the only widely supported secure app.
  • What tablets?
  • They were all sure that their users were going around security protocols and using outside services.

Where is the disconnect then? Why are we still struggling with BYOD implementations?

Challenge 1: BYOD policies

First of all, as also noted by Mr. Foster, there are success stories also, so it certainly is possible to implement an effective BYOD policy with support from suitable technology. But in many cases BYOD implementation has more or less failed, or at least remained incomplete. One quite typical scenario is that organizations are either officially or unofficially allowing the use of personal devices at work, but do not have a formal BYOD policy in place. For instance, CIO UK research results from 2013 showed that 55% of the organizations lacked BYOD policy. Or, at the other end of the scale, the BYOD policies may be overly restrictive, which remains an issue for one in five BYOD implementationsaccording to Gartner.

For a common sense approach to BYOD policy, check out this presentation from Advanced Business Solutions.

Challenge 2: High cost of EMM solutions

BYOD involves various security concerns, but as the desired business benefits are often considered to outweigh them, the security concerns just have to be addressed somehow. In practice, this means implementing either Mobile Device Management (MDM; see our earlier blog post on the topic) solution or more comprehensive EMM solution. The problem, especially to smaller organizations, has often been the high cost of EMM solutions and they have found it impossible to justify the investment.

High cost has also been an obstacle for many bigger organizations which have ended up implementing EMM for a part of the employees only. This has resulted in either only partial BYOD coverage or adding a more cost efficient MDM solution to cover the rest of the employees.

Challenge 3: Yet another point solution

Third challenge is what we are seeing especially in the large organizations: EMM is yet another point solution (as it by definition covers only mobile devices) which doesn’t necessarily fit well into organizations’ overall application architectures. Especially, when the organizations have an IT service management solution in use for service orchestration, it is very challenging to feed the solution with quality data from several different systems – some covering mobile devices, some Windows devices, some OS X devices and so on. That would require building a number of integrations and end up in significantly increased maintenance complexity as compared to a unified solution which would cover the data collection and normalization for all organizations’ devices and platforms.