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Unlocking the power of mobility: The right technology, culture and process

Freedom brings risks and rewards. And, that is certainly true when it comes to mobility for most organizations. Mobility unleashes our ability to communicate, collaborate and innovate across geographies. These rewards, however, come with security, policy and network management challenges. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear this first-hand from customers, partners, and providers as they think through the issues associated with bring your own device or “BYOD”.

And with more sophisticated mobile devices entering the consumer market, the BYOD trend will only accelerate. As 44% of workers use three+ devices for work each day, our customers now recognize that they need to think beyond the device and address the issues of secure data access and network management. Their challenge: how to “lock it down before they free it up.”

A recent global survey commissioned by Cisco from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Secure Data Access in a Mobile Environment, questioned 578 senior executives on the current and ongoing challenges stemming from increasing trends toward worker and user mobility, and how this has shaped company BYOD practices and policies. The respondents represented several different industries, with major ones including IT and technology (13%), financial services (11%), professional services (11%) and energy and natural resources (9%). Overall, the results found that although manyexecutives are uneasy about the security of corporate information on mobile devices, the trend is largely unstoppable and proper policies must be initiated to underpin access to this sensitive information.

In my new role as head of worldwide sales for Cisco, I oversee a distributed team of highly mobile professionals around the world who require the ability to “work their way” regardless of location, so I can relate to the challenges our customers are facing when it comes to managing the influx of personal mobile devices. Below are a few key findings from the survey, which are consistent with what I’m hearing from our customers:

  • Most executives are still uneasy about their companies’ mobile data-access policies.
  • 42% say that C-suite needs secure and timely access to strategic data, yet, only 28% believe it’s appropriate to access this from mobile devices.
  • 49% say the complexity of securing multiple data sources and a lack of knowledge about mobile-access security and risk are top challenges for their companies.
  • Larger companies are most willing to allow mobile access to critical data, but also impose stricter rules
  • 47% of companies with revenue under $500m permit access on personal devices with policies that are more informal.
  • Over 90% of companies with over $1b revenue allow access to data via personal and company devices and have written and enforced security policies.
  • BYOD requires that companies take a fresh look at how they attempt to control devices and use. And importantly, mobile policies must not neglect social networking.
  • There is a gap in what is stated and what is allowed; 56% of respondents have policies for acceptable use of social networks on mobile devices, yet, 33% of the executives are restricted from discussing work on these platforms.
  • With an influx of devices, available infrastructure is the key influence on company policies around mobile access.
  • 60% cite IT infrastructure requirements as the primary influence on policy around security and security related to mobile access

It’s clear from the survey findings that each new opportunity to further connect and engage employees brings with it a corresponding set of challenges. Social media will become a critical component in the world of BYOD, as multiple devices necessitate collaboration technologies that must work in tandem. Tools will also have to become adaptive, as social applications begin to overlay with collaboration technologies. Additionally, mobile applications will begin expanding into the mobile workforce, creating further implications for those working outside the firewall.

With this in mind, the creation of a collaboration strategy that integrates  the right technology, the right culture and the right processes is key to unlocking the power of mobility. On the technology front, we know that devices are only as useful as the connections they have, which makes an intelligent network more critical than ever before.

At Cisco we’re committed to helping you address the challenges associated with BYOD so that you can enable your employees to work where and how they want, securely. I would encourage you to check out the full EIU report here, and then learn how Cisco and our partners can help you build a unified workplace strategy at www.cisco.com/go/yourway.  Let me know your thoughts on the survey and how Cisco can help your business. We’re only just beginning to see how mobility will transform the enterprise and Cisco is excited to lead the way.

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Securing the Cloud with Common Criteria

Last week I attended the ICCC in Paris where Ashit Vora, Manager, Security Assurance, Cisco discussed the Cloud and how Common Criteria can be used to help mitigate threats.  The following is an excerpt from his presentation and food for thought on Cloud security.

More and more enterprises, including governments are moving their data “to the Cloud” in the hopes of saving infrastructure and maintenance costs.  But is this at the risk of security? As both private and public Clouds become pervasive, security is going to be a major concern.   Cloud infrastructure by definition has large amounts of information including proprietary information, competitive information, information of different classification levels, etc.  In addition, the types of mechanism available to access the information in the Cloud, such as B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device), are increasing day by day. If the proper security mechanisms are not in place and validated, it could prove to be damaging to all users of the Cloud.

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The Future of Collaboration

In the recent 2012 IBM C Suite Study, leaders said that Collaboration is the number one trait leaders are seeking in their employees, with over 75% calling it critical, and many now see technology as an enabler of collaboration and relationships – those essential connections that fuel creativity and innovation.

At Cisco we believe that people can achieve extraordinary things by working together, and Cisco creates the environments and experience that puts the extraordinary within reach.  We are shaping a future

  • where collaborative work spaces are a blend of physical and virtual,
  • where the choice of collaboration tool will be Read More »

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Coming Together in the Virtual Workspace

Almost five years ago, I was working in the wireless division for Cisco when we introduced the concept of business mobility in motion. Laptop sales were booming and Wi-Fi connectivity was cropping up everywhere, giving rise to the vision of people being mobile and their work following them. Today that vision has never been more real: the workplace is no longer a place. A new generation of devices, applications, and of course increased network capacity, allow people to perform almost any work activity — from the mundane to the complex — almost anywhere.  Where we all come together today is a virtual workspace, and we’re connecting to it from places, devices, and applications of our choice.

The way we work — what we call collaboration  -- is changing, too.  We’re evolving from sending email and sharing files, to a work style based on social conversations and real-time communication. As our teams and work locations become more dispersed, richer interaction styles such as web conferencing, voice, and video increasingly come into play, often with mobile devices as the primary platform.

The intersection of collaboration and mobility is truly a crossroads. And a company that moves to embrace and use these capabilities will find itself the winner — with employees, customers, and shareholders — on the other side.

However, technology leaders who find themselves at this juncture face a major challenge Read More »

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Six Success Factors for Unified Communications Solutions

August 27, 2012 at 10:53 am PST

On August 29, I’ll be joining Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research for an on-line briefing on his research regarding Cisco and Microsoft Unified Communications products and services. While making my preparations for the webcast it got me thinking about how customers should approach Unified Communications strategies, investments, and projects irrespective of any vendor-related decisions. In discussing Unified Communications solutions with customers, I recommend that they keep six success factors firmly in mind in charting course for highly effective solutions.  Read More »

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