In the days before mobile devices even existed – and before a large group began to do their work on them – the IT department decreed which type of device the company would deploy. Workers had no choice as to what software or hardware they would be using. While employees lacked freedom in that regard, the model in which the IT department prescribed which devices to use and banned others enabled the creation of a more secure environment for corporate data . A growing trend towards BYOD has meant that many workers now have the freedom to choose their devices, with the result that IT departments do not have the same measure of control over devices that they had previously.
Charles Brett, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, Inc.
, a firm which analyzes the effect of emerging technologies on businesses, pointed out that the model he referred to as “prescribe/proscribe” no longer works. He explained that employees are buying mobile devices that are meant for consumers, but which also have a high degree of business communication and collaboration utility. Workers are using these devices in both their personal and professional lives, and their mobile devices now store information that relates to their lives at and outside the office. “In the past, companies could remotely wipe personal devices” which had been lost or stolen, Brett said. Now, businesses cannot do that because they might be getting rid of an employee’s personal information, which they have no right to do.
Companies need to adopt a mobile device management approach which “demarcates personal from corporate,” Brett advised. Admittedly, this is a difficult proposition to carry out. Constellation Research, Inc. surveyed 16 mobile device management systems. Mobile device management systems enable a person in authority to control devices on which the software has been installed. Brett remarked that 70% of the mobile device management systems that Constellation Research, Inc. examined can separate a user’s work information from his or her personal information on a mobile device. He added the caveat that the solutions offered are “reasonable, not great."