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.