Feature story: It’s not that companies don’t want to adopt a policy. But in a multi-platform world, it’s complicated.
Over two thirds of Canadian companies still have no policy in place to deal with the bring-your-own-device phenomenon, the latest IDC Canada research shows.
The disconnect is a jarring one: although 69 per cent of companiespermit some form of BYOD (in which employees use theirown personalmobile devices for work purposes) an equal amount of firms – 70 percent – have no policy to manage the practice. While 26 per cent ofthose with no policy plan to have one in place within a year, 44 percent say they have absolutely no plan to enact one at all.
Despite the potential security risks that come with BYOD, it’s apparentfrom these numbers that Canadian businesses still aren’t really dealingwiththe trend. When it comes to figuring out why, IDC’sKrista Napier suggests a huge part of the problem is the novelty ofBYOD itself.
“This trend is still pretty new. It requires companies to thinkdifferently and requires IT managers to have to manage more differentmovingpieces. Tablets – which have been driving a lot of this – only launchedin the second quarter of 2010,” said Napier, senior analyst and trackerteam lead for mobility at IDC Canada. She presented highlights of theBYOD data during a workshop before the 2012 Channel Elite Awards heldby ITBusiness.ca’s sister site, Computer Dealer News (CDN).
Another reason for the lack of BYOD policy adoption is the difficultyof managing multiple operating platforms and multiple types of devices,Napiersaid.
“We’re going from an environment in many businesses where these werevery much BlackBerry shops. Even in 2011 we were still seeing it as aleading platform and it’s only just very recently we’ve seen BlackBerrystruggling and these other platforms taking off and supercedingBlackBerry in enterprises.”
As companies migrate away from an official employee-wide BlackBerrydeployment to a BYOD environment where more staff are using iOS andAndroid devices for work, the situation adds IT security and managementcomplications to the mix that didn’t exist before, Napier said.
For example, if a worker uses their own personal smartphone for work, doestheir company have the right to automatically wipe it in the event ofloss or theft even if the employee’s personal data will be also wipedinthe process? In Napier’s estimation, many companies simply haven’tformulated a BYOD policy because they’re still grappling with thecomplexityof this new multiple device, multiplatform universe.
Although the growing popularity of tablets is responsible for much ofthe BYOD trend, tablets are still being used mainly in addition to –rather than completely instead of – more traditional enterprisedevices.
“Tablets aren’t necessarily, at this point, replacing your desktop oryour netbook,” Napier said. “They’re not necessarily leading to thedeath of laptops.”
So what’s a Canadian company to do when faced with the BYOD bombardmentthese days? The good news is that as more companies move to the cloud,many of these questions and conundrums will simply disappear into thecloud over time.
“When (company) data is accessed in the cloud, it’s not sitting on thedevice. As we see more companies adopt cloud, the device will be lessimportant and BYOD will be less of an issue,” Napier said. “You stillhave to have the right solutions in place to deal with that but it justbecomes an easier proposition.”
Also on the bright side, BYOD has spurred IT vendors to come up withnew tools that helpcompanies manage the trend securely, such as multiple platform support,device monitoring and app provisioning. That’s creating brand newopportunities for vendors and their channel partners, Napier said.
“It’s driving the need for these types of solutions, so there’s lots ofnew channel opportunities.”
IDC Canada’s figures are based on its regular tracker data for tabletsand mobile phones, plus its surveys of individual Canadian businesses.
Napier will be speaking more about BYOD at ITBusiness.ca’s Tech Outlook event on Sept. 27 in Toronto. For more details, go to www.techoutlook.ca.