BYOD challenge: How to keep your business secure

“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is the latest trend in IT. Employees bring their own device, say a laptop, tablet or smartphone, to work. Often a business will contribute towards the cost of the equipment. This is appealing all round – the company saves money, and the employees get to choose and buy their favourite device. IT support should not be an issue, the device just needs to be added to the IT support schedules.

The real challenges are less obvious – if your staff can choose their own software and apps, and download them in minutes to their own device, how do you ensure that everyone uses the business software applications that have been purchased for use throughout the company? For example, an employee might choose to use Skype, which was only intended for personal use, while the business might decide to invest in Avaya Flare for conferencing. The other concern is how to prevent unauthorised software from entering your corporate network.

Surprisingly maybe, the answers don’t lie with the technology. Keeping your network working correctly, secure and free from unauthorised software depends on how you involve your people.

The focus for your BYOD strategy should start with your staff. It’s all about the user experience – if people are included in the planning and choice of technology, they will naturally feel more motivated to use the system. It’s a question of “unified communication” (UC). 

A successful UC adoption begins with a focus on the user experience. The best UC implementations start with pilots, or proofs of concept, amongst key groups of end-users, and these should always include a broad cross section of users. If you work with an independent UC specialist, they will offer products from all the leading software vendors and will be able to work with you to design the correct pilot.

The pilots should never be “install and leave” – the supplier should take full responsibility for proving the success of the implementation and its effect on key stakeholders. Therefore you need to select a provider with a well developed engineering service who can support all of your regional sites.

As for avoiding a security nightmare, for most of those personal apps there will be a corporate equivalent which offers the same functionality. Your IT teams should be able to offer users comparable corporate solutions, with proper security built-in – this will go a long way towards avoiding a security nightmare.

Once your UC system arrives, your focus should still be your staff. The best suppliers provide “alongside” user training and plan for Adoption Review cycles – ie they will perform ongoing checks to understand how people are using the new system and ensure it beds in.

Moving towards UC will not happen overnight, we recommend a gentle transition, where your new systems are carefully checked for integration with the legacy systems – so to allow a hybrid set of apps and a gradual implementation – never rip and replace. 

Tom Perry is marketing director of Connect Communications, an independent Unified Communications consultancy.

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