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Mobile Progress Is Slow, But Improving

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Companies Are Facing The Same BYOD Obstacles That Challenges Them Last Year

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon is one of the most disruptive forces to ever hit the enterprise communications landscape. Driven by the consumerization of IT, decision-makers feel compelled to expand their business phone systems, allowing individuals to access collaborative platforms, as well as other mission-critical resources, from virtually anywhere through personally owned smartphones and tablets.

BYOD offers a lot of promise for organizations - if the programs are implemented correctly. Rather than requiring employees to come to the office every day, the use of mobile gadgets enables executives to support a remote workforce with fewer complications and connectivity problems, which was the primary inhibitor to allowing mobile access in the past.

Additionally, BYOD initiatives offer organizations numerous financial opportunities as well. By giving employees the ability to use personal smartphones and tablets in the office, decision-makers do not need to invest in and support as many conventional desk phones. This can introduce both monetary benefits, as well as operational advantages, as IT teams no longer need to spend as much time upkeeping legacy hardware that often causes more headache than results.

Still, the BYOD sword is double-edged. If enterprises embrace mobile initiatives without thoroughly planning programs and getting employees up to speed, they risk encountering significant security and performance obstacles. The threat landscape is undoubtedly evolving and becoming more malicious. Cybercriminals are now targeting more than their usual buffet of weak perimeters and are going after unprotected mobile devices that provide streamlined access to critical corporate networks and assets.

Difficulty With Mobility?

Even as the urge to build mobile strategies has increased during the past several years, enterprises still encounter security issues with the programs. A recent Coalfire study of 400 employees who are not affiliated with the IT departments revealed that current practices with smartphones and tablets in the workplace are not exactly where they should be. In many cases, these issues are the same problems they encountered in 2012, suggesting that minimal change has occurred, preventing the mobile movement from truly prospering.

The survey revealed that approximately 86 percent of employees use the same smartphone or tablet for work-related tasks and personal activities, compared to 84 percent in 2012. Unfortunately, 47 percent of respondents still do not have a passcode on these personal mobile devices, the same percentage as those in 2012, which suggests that companies may be inadvertently exposing highly confidential information solely because the workforce has not prioritized the protection of endpoints.

"We are surprised to see results so similar to last year regarding security on tablets and smartphones, especially considering the attention that has been placed on this issue. The results demonstrate that businesses are not using effective methods to protect critical infrastructure. Security awareness training for tablet and smartphone users should be a top priority for all organizations," said Rick Dakin, CEO and chief security strategist with Coalfire.

Businesses that want to stay competitive and implement the most effective communications projects need to consider developing a thorough mobile strategy.

Signs of Improvement

Coalfire found that roughly 44 percent of respondents claimed their organizations have a mobile device usage policy, which is an improvement from only 37 percent who said these guidelines existed in 2012. Additionally, decision-makers have taken steps to ensure individuals have the power to remotely wipe lost, stolen or potentially corrupted mobile devices. In fact, only 33 percent of respondents said their enterprises are still lacking this capability, down from 51 percent last year.

A separate Gartner report highlighted how a large portion of companies will take BYOD to the limit and require individuals to use their own gadgets. For these initiatives to be successful, analysts noted that decision-makers must assess their current status and consider whether implementing a mobile strategy will deliver any real results in the long run.

"[The] business case for BYOD needs to be better evaluated. Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case. Like other elements of the nexus of forces - cloud, mobile, social and information- mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

As companies look to replace old phone systems with more innovative communication strategies, decision-makers are geared to look in the direction of mobility. For the most part, embracing a BYOD or other mobile initiative will deliver numerous benefits to organizations of all sizes, depending on how well the plans are built.

Executives need to prioritize employee training to ensure the entire workplace is on the same page when it comes to embracing and supporting BYOD. Without these comprehensive guidelines, businesses will not be able to take full advantage of the mobile movement.