Bring your own application (BYOA)

Are Australian Businesses Aware of BYOA?

Are Australian Businesses Aware of BYOA? 1000 667 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Australia is at the forefront of bring-your-own-application (BYOA) adoption, according to a survey from Edge Strategies and LogMeIn. With 44 percent of companies implementing BYOA, Australia has surpassed the United States, which only had a 25 percent adoption rate.

But does this mean Australian ITs are ready for BYOA?

First of All, What Is BYOA?

Simply put, BYOA, or bring-your-own-application, is the use of third party apps for work. These consumer applications are commonly used by employees to do their jobs quicker and more effectively. Applications like these offer employees flexibility, which is one of the main motivations for using personal apps for work, even if they’re not regulated by their company’s IT department.

That’s the simple truth: Employees use personal apps for work because they are more convenient. It helps them get more work done in less time since they’ve become comfortable with them (after all, they also use apps like these for personal banking, social networking, etc.). They don’t need to undergo training to learn how to use data storage and collaboration apps, which is what typically happens with company-issued applications.

Another reason is that companies don’t offer them enough options. Andy Farquharson, Vice President of LogMeIn Asia Pacific, said that because what current app companies provide can’t answer their employees’ needs, the latter resort to finding and using their own apps. For those companies that offer multiple sets of apps, the scheme may backfire. Employees may find them to be complicated and difficult to use. In the end, they default to what they already know: Third party applications.

The Changing Landscape of Company Applications in Numbers

Survey showed that 73 percent of companies here and in New Zealand have employee-introduced apps that are actively used at work. Most of these are cloud file sync and share apps like Google Drive and Dropbox. Two thirds of businesses have employees that use BYOA despite the fact that companies have existing IT solutions in place. Another survey results from research firm Telsyte found that employees continue to use personal apps even though their companies prohibit them from doing so.

The quest for better productivity means Australians disregard company policies about using personal apps. The Telsyte survey, which involved 460 CIOs and ICT decision-makers, found that although 48 percent of companies ban the use of these apps for work, 14 percent admit that their employees still do it anyway. Only 34 percent actively enforce the rule.

That doesn’t mean, however, that enterprises do not see the potential benefits of BYOA. In fact, 27 percent of Australian companies do not force restrictions when it comes to apps use, and 25 percent have a catalogue of approved apps for employees to choose from. The report cited communications, project and task management, storage, and productivity apps like Skype, GoToMeeting, Evernote, Basecamp, iCloud, and QuickOffice are popular among users.

Still, almost 80 percent of companies have no plan to officially support BYOA. That could mean enterprises miss out on opportunities because using personal apps for work has significant effects on productivity. By letting employees manage their own IT requirements, they also discover ways to innovate and accomplish work quicker and become more efficient.

Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda says that using personal apps for work is the new form of shadow IT. Unless companies find ways to properly manage the use of these third party applications, more and more people are going to access data through unsecured means. The numbers show that employees are not slowing down when it comes to BYOA and it’s up to the organisations to rise up to the challenge.

The Challenges for IT Departments

Sadly, based on the figures, businesses are not yet ready for this emerging trend. The Telsyte survey found that only 20 percent of companies have concrete plans to embrace BYOA. Even with such a plan, IT departments face some tough challenges in order to accommodate this approach. First, they need to offer multiple set of apps so they can monitor the way employees use data. Second, the study conducted by LogMeIn and Edge Strategies found that there are actually seven times more apps being used in the workplace compared to what IT respondents say. Farquharson believes this is the biggest challenge for businesses and that they need to bridge that gap to get the most out of BYOA and avoid security risks.

They need to listen to employees to come up with better solutions in enhancing productivity while still having some level of control to protect critical information. Implementing mobile device management strategies can help them prevent employees from bypassing IT policies without obstructing productivity and flexibility.

Furthermore, just like BYOD (bring your own device) BYOA comes with some risks. Although it helps improve productivity, its very nature makes it susceptible to security risks. Employee-owned devices that run these apps are not necessarily monitored by your IT department, making BYOA a little scary. The lack of regulation can pave the way for security breaches, since most employees are less likely to think about how they’re accessing critical company data when working outside the office. They’ll connect to public Wi-Fi connections to send emails, download, upload, and share files, unaware that the data they transmit through unsecure networks is visible to everyone. As always, the cornerstone of any BYOA program should always be individual competence and education.

Bring your own device (BYOD)

BYOD: How to Increase Productivity without Compromising Security

BYOD: How to Increase Productivity without Compromising Security 1000 667 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Using personal devices for business tasks is convenient but poses several security risks. Sadly, many are not aware of the safety issues of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices. Not everyone will pay attention to the way they access their company’s data through their smartphones or tablets. They won’t even think twice about connecting to a public Wi-Fi connection because their focus is getting work done. Let’s face it: Productivity trumps security for most users.

BYOD is something that gives network and security administrators headaches, both in house and offering managed IT services. It’s easy to lose important data when someone uses a personal device for work-related tasks without proper precautions. This opens the door for security breaches and other problems where disaster recovery. The question now is: Is it possible to improve productivity without compromising security when using personal devices for work?

The answer depends on how strong your drive is to improving both because, let’s face it, there will always be risks of losing data even if you workers are using company-owned computers. It all boils down on the user and how solid your company’s BYOD strategies are.

Implementing Clearly Defined Policies

Companies first need to create clear policies regarding usage of personal devices for work-related tasks. These must include why, when, and how they can access data. You need to draw the lines and make it clear to employees the risks involved in using their own devices. Conducting trainings and regular meetings about data security can be advantageous.

Don’t forget to get them involved. Most of the time, your employees don’t know their activities are compromising security because they have no idea. By educating your staff, you significantly reduce the risks.

You may think that only huge companies can pull this off because they have departments that can take care of trainings. They’re not the only ones. Although it might present some challenges, small business can also implement BYOD security strategies.

Encourage Responsible Data and Device Use

If users are well-informed of the risks involved, they’re more likely to become more responsible in using their devices. It’s up to you, as their boss, to lead by example. Be transparent. Demonstrate how you use your own devices for work, when possible. Encourage discussions and friendly exchanges between all concerned parties so that you can address any concern, like confusion about apps that they can or cannot download.

More importantly, give them the impression that you’re willing to assist if they encounter any problem. A recent Gartner study found that only 27 percent of users in the US that found security issues with their devices felt the need to report to their employers. You don’t want your staff to withhold critical information like this. You have to stay on top of any security concern and that will only happen if they’re comfortable enough to talk to you.

Consider Investing on the Appropriate Technology

Using the right technology is very important in securing your data. Even the most prudent employee can lose critical information if he doesn’t have the right tools. The most obvious route is to install antivirus and anti-malware software in all devices. In this day and age surveillance is getting a pad reputation, but monitoring the devices’ location and Internet traffic is a crucial aspect of preventing any security breach. That way, you can take appropriate actions when, say, an employee loses a tablet or smartphone. Monitoring software will let you either retrieve the device or, in the event it was stolen, help the authorities apprehend the culprit.

Kill Switch, Anyone?

These days, it’s increasingly easy to retrieve data from lost or stolen phones. This can be disastrous for companies. That’s why a kill switch might be the best solution. It’s basically a device that can remotely wipe or shut down any device and render the hardware unusable.

But there’s the question of what happens to the user’s personal information? Jeff Rubin, Vice President of Strategy at a security specialist company, raises this issue. The company’s option would be to contain the data on the user’s device so the kill switch can only wipe out applications that contain corporate data, leaving their personal files intact.

Another solution would be to use software that allows you to approve the applications installed in smartphones, tablets, and even laptops. Gartner predicted that the number of people who use mobile applications will double by 2015, and this makes software like this more appealing to business owners.

Dual Persona Smart Phones

Samsung and Blackberry have recently rolled out their own versions of security and management software that has dual-personality features, which enables users to separate personal and corporate data on devices like the Z10 and Galaxy S4.

What Should You Do?

BYOD is here to stay. In fact, companies across the globe are working towards improving the productivity, flexibility, and efficiency of their employees. So much, actually, that they will soon make it mandatory for employees to use their own devices. And with the increase of smartphone and tablet sales to consumers, you can only expect more people to use these in lieu of their office PCs. As such, it’s crucial that companies work hard in implementing solid strategies that improve productivity without compromising security, even if they use managed IT services and refer these matters to contractors for the most part.

A combination of the right tools and solid BYOD policies should be enough to get everyone on board, making them more responsible in using personal devices for work.