Solving BYOD Shortcomings - IT and Privacy Perspectives

Achieving greater mobility with the help of personal devices and flexible networks is a high-level priority for decision-makers in every corner of the public and private sectors. Still, a number of roadblocks have kept organizations from getting the most out of their mobile initiatives, struggling to overcome the technological and privacy concerns that strategies such as BYOD present. You've likely launched a mobile movement in some capacity within your own IT department, but have you been able to strike a balance of end user freedom, cyber security and personal data protection?

The BYOD generation

Mobile endeavors have officially entered the mainstream, and these strategies have been shown to yield a range of compelling benefits across the enterprise environment. As FierceCIO recently noted, the schedule flexibility afforded by such efforts has led many organizations to implement telecommuting and work-from-home programs, many of which have seen tangible results. For example, parents with challenging schedules can remain productive thanks to mobile solutions that let them work around their commitments at home.

Organizations that boast teleworking and flexible productivity plans are also more likely to attract and retain the top talent of the millennial generation, according to the source. Elements such as employee benefits and stock options are fairly commonplace tools draw in applicants, but the addition of a work-from-home policy may be the factor that encourages individuals to commit to an employer when push comes to shove. The benefits of BYOD and mobility in general are clear enough, but your organization may not have the right tech and policies to support these efforts.

Building the foundation

While best practices have yet to be established in the area of BYOD, you aren't entirely on your own when it comes to laying down quality policies and IT resources. According to FierceCIO, virtualization has been deemed one of the most effective launching pads for such initiatives, providing administrators with the ability to replicate desktop environments for mobile users and those who choose to work from home. The source pointed out that 40 percent of workers claim that their top priority is using their preferred device in the workplace, and virtualization offers this flexibility.

This may be easier said than done with legacy solutions - especially those that are only compatible with certain operating systems and devices - but virtualization opens up the floodgates for users with a wide range of personal tech preferences. According to GovTech, the limitations of antiquated IT systems have held many public organizations back from achieving their mobile goals. As end user demands increase in both volume and complexity, it is crucial that you bolster your infrastructure with solutions such as virtualization to keep up with the pace.

"When we started allowing access back in the BlackBerry days there was one device, one operating system. It was pretty simple," said Napa County, California CIO Jon Gjestvang. "With the introduction of multiple devices, that has opened up challenges for us."

GovTech went on to explain that despite having plenty of internal expertise and resources, many organizations don't know how to best transition their legacy systems to a virtual environment, leaving many IT shops stuck in the mud as they consider a migration. King County, Washington IT enterprise manager Bob Micielli told the source that by teaming up with a dedicated service provider, in this case a cloud computing specialist, his team was able to successfully implement the mobile resources that end users expect in the digital age.

"It gives us the flexibility to access the information from anywhere you are," Micielli explained, as quoted by the source. "You don't have to sign into our environment, you can use the cloud portal. So rather than us building the servers, supporting the software, supporting the applications, we let the cloud provider handle all that."

Setting boundaries

With regard to policy, GovTech suggested that you put end user privacy first when establishing the parameters of your organization's mobile strategy. Cyber security is likely one of your top concerns, but protecting your employees' personal information is an important step toward ensuring a safe BYOD environment throughout the network. In other words, workers who feel protected by their employer's security measures will become more aware of the larger security concerns of the organization at large.

"Most people don't protect the data in their personal smartphones the same way their data in a work device would be protected," said Michigan Chief Security Officer Dan Lohrmann, according to the source. "There aren't the same mandates, and ultimately people don't perceive the risk, so they don't take the precautions."

By leveraging a modernized, virtual environment to support BYOD demands and developing a comprehensive security plan to protect applications and end users, you and your team will be well equipped to enter the next generation of mobile productivity.