Education Key to Customer BYOD Challenges

BYOD devicesFaced with changing realities thrust upon them by users bringing their own devices and demanding to use them in the workplace environment, a majority of IT departments are responding by doing very little if anything at all. According to a new survey conducted by the Ponemon Insitute on behalf of cloud backup company Acronis, Inc., almost 60 percent of businesses don’t have a personal device policy in place despite the growing strength of the BYOD movement and the massive number of tools available that offer to help companies manage various facets of BYOD.

In fact, according to the survey of some 4,300 IT professionals in eight countries, nearly a third of companies still outright ban personal devices on the corporate network, and almost 80 percent of those surveyed haven’t educated employees on the privacy or security risks around BYOD.

Although many solution providers have added BYOD management technologies including mobile device management to their list of services, the time has come for the channel to ratchet up the volume when it comes to awareness and education.

This is an area where a little bit of awareness can go a long way, particularly when it comes to SMB customers with less complex environments. Consider some of the more rudimentary challenges that Acronis’ survey reveals.

  • 25 percent of those surveyed – nearly half of the 59 percent that actually have BYOD policies – admit to making exceptions to their own policies.
  • 31 percent of companies mandate a password or key lock on personal devices that are allowed to access the network.
  • 21 percent perform remote device wipes when employees leave the company.
  • 67 percent don’t have a policy in place around the use of consumer-grade public cloud storage offerings like DropBox, and just 20 percent have bothered to train employees around the use of these platforms.

Most of these challenges are not problems with access to the appropriate tools or technologies to manage BYOD, they speak to organizations’ lack of will or ability to implement and enforce existing BYOD best practices, and to make us of readily-available tools for mobile device management and network security.

Many of these challenges that do depend on technology – such as mandating a device password with the option to wipe the device if an incorrect password is entered too frequently – depend on technologies that require no incremental spending on software or hardware. The ability is baked into smartphone and tablet platforms.

So as much as there’s an opportunity for solution providers to add mobile device management and related technologies to their services offerings, a more immediate opportunity for many solution providers maybe to extend their existing “trusted advisor” or “outsourced CIO” stature with clients to provide education and options for managing the BYOD tidal wave that many businesses are facing.

Simply helping the 39 percent of companies that have no existing BYOD policy craft a reasonable policy that optimizes security, privacy, and productivity for all involved, and is enforceable on behalf of the customer, goes a long way. From there, solution providers in concert with customer IT staff and HR professionals can help educate customers’ rank-and-file employees about both the new policy and the need to exercise some level of caution.

As well as solving a customer pain point and adding new areas of expertise for the solution provider, doing so allows solution providers to position themselves as the expert of record around important areas of mobility and security, and opens the door for upsale into further BYOD-related opportunities, such as a managed MDM rollout.

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