The business world has changed dramatically over the past several years, starting with the introduction of the smartphone and later, the tablet. Since the devices were first introduced to the enterprise, the consumerization of IT, or the penetration of consumer-oriented technologies and solutions in the workplace, has been a major driver behind the evolution of business practices and how organizations operate on a fundamental level.
One of the biggest trends associated with consumerization is the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon. At first, the introduction of BYOD enabled employees to improve productivity, while boosting job satisfaction, as the programs allows individuals to use personal gadgets for work-related tasks. As the trend caught on, however, IT departments began to see the data security vulnerabilities introduced through inviting unprotected devices into the corporate network.
Policy-based governance is critical
While this step may seem more obvious than others, it is important nonetheless. Decision-makers need to immediately develop a set of best practices and policies to manage how employees use personally owned devices in the office if BYOD programs are to remain secure, InfoWorld noted.
Still, many companies feel unprepared for consumerization.
A recent study by SolarWinds found that roughly two-thirds of IT professionals feel they are ill equipped for the influx of mobile devices entering the corporate network. Decision-makers said part of the problem is that there is an increase in workload because of a wide diversity of gadgets performing tasks. Meanwhile, others believe they cannot keep up with employee demand and data protection is simply being overrun by an invasion of smartphones and tablets.
By implementing robust governing policies, proactive guidelines and in-depth best practices for employees to follow, there will be less work required by IT departments to mitigate cost and risk, InfoWorld noted.
MDM tools are useful
Decision-makers can also deploy mobile device management (MDM) software to support and secure smartphones and tablets. Typically, these solutions help distribute applications more effectively, enforce access control policies and follow through on usage requirements, InfoWorld noted. As a result, IT departments can blacklist applications that may pose threats to data privacy and protection, making BYOD programs safer by disabling the employee's ability to download unauthorized applications.
As more IT departments adopt MDM tools to aid BYOD programs, Forrester Research forecasts the market for MDM tools to grow to $6.6 billion in 2015, compared to slightly less than $4 billion in 2011.
However, the mobile management market is forecast to undergo a major change as IT departments realize monitoring specific devices can be too difficult. Instead, decision-makers will take a data-centric approach to security and protect information and applications, rather than individual smartphones and tablets. A common way they are doing this is by creating an enterprise app store.
Following consumer trends can lead to improved corporate security
By developing a centralized location where employees can download a variety of solutions onto their personal mobile devices, IT departments can mitigate some concern in regard to monitoring app usage. Corporate app stores can also meet a broad range of demands, as IT departments can provide tools for different operating systems and devices, InfoWorld noted.
"We can take lessons from the consumer app store model and apply that to meet the specific needs of the business environment," Avanade chief information officer Chris Miller said, according to InfoWorld.
Decision-makers can also install an approval system that allows individuals to request desired applications. As a result, management can ensure that teams are given access to the solutions they need without jeopardizing the integrity of the corporate network.
IT departments must conquer BYOD security fears
In the past, companies could simply deny employees the ability to use personal electronics in the office. However, this is simply not an option with the consumerization of IT. To eliminate some concerns, businesses are deploying cloud computing and virtualization security technologies to safely provide access to mission-critical applications and data through a wide range of endpoints, regardless of whether an employee chooses to use a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
If decision-makers deploy the right protective solutions and manage employee usage of gadgets effectively, the consumerization of IT can yield significant benefits, including reduced IT budgets, improved operational efficiency and remote working capabilities to boost employee satisfaction.
In the end, businesses need to realize that consumerization is here and is not going away anytime soon. The sooner IT departments make adjustments to security protocol, the quicker organizations can participate in trends that can give them a competitive advantage over rival firms and increase opportunities for growth.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro