Technology

Can't Fight the BYOD Trend? Learn How To Manage

By / Nov 13, 2012 (iqoncept/123RF)

Despite the clear trend toward bring-your-own-device computing, IT departments haven’t moved nearly as quickly toward mobile device management. Should yours?

Securing corporate data on mobile devices is a big challenge, but one that companies must embrace.

Can’t beat ’em? Join ’em … somehow.

We already know that offices are becoming more and more decentralized, and associations may be struggling to keep their grip on the “bring your own device” trend.

BYOD requires a little bit of letting go, and much like cloud computing, it means you won’t have quite as much say about how employees work as you once did. This can be tough for enterprises, which often have information to protect, to handle.

Gartner’s research vice president, Phil Redman, recently nailed this down in very specific terms.

“The convenience and productivity gains that mobile devices bring are too tempting for most companies and their employees,” he explained at a recent conference. “Securing corporate data on mobile devices is a big challenge, but one that companies must embrace. Enterprises are struggling with how to support and secure this dynamic workforce.”

So, in other words, the people doing the hard work on this are association IT staffs. But what IT departments may not realize is that they still have options for keeping these devices in line — even if the devices employees are bringing on board are bleeding-edge Android devices, or even something a little newer, like the Windows Phone 8.

Mobile device management (MDM) might be one of those options. MDM software allows IT departments to offer common services across numerous platforms — such as cloud storage and network access — while providing extra security for, and control of, corporate data.

Despite a wide move toward BYOD, just 22 percent of organizations are using or looking into MDM, according to a CDW survey [PDF] — and two-thirds of IT professionals aren’t even familiar with it.

As a result, the growth potential is strong, assuming IT professionals begin to familiarize themselves with it. Gartner sees the trend coming: It says 65 percent of enterprises will begin using MDM solutions by 2017, especially for smartphones and tablets. The research firm also says 90 percent of firms will have to manage two or more brands of smartphones on their systems — something that might facilitate the usage of MDM.

So what are your options? ZDNet suggests major players like IBM and Symantec, along with newer options like AirWatch, MobileIron and Zenprise. Even Research In Motion is joining this market with BlackBerry Fusion.

But ultimately, the goal is what it always is: What makes sense for your association, your IT staff, and your long-term goals? Is convenience or security the key element here?

Let us know how you manage your devices in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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