Nobody can deny the popularity of the iPad and iPhone among consumers, but there is also a trend that is seeing those consumers choose to use their Apple devices for work purposes. In fact, the number of employee-owned smartphones and tablets used in the enterprise is set to reach 350 million by 2014, up from 150 million this year, according to a recent report by analyst firm Juniper Research.
Another report sheds light on the impact of mobile devices on business structures in the UK. Gartner revealed that UK CIOs estimated that 20% of mobile devices used in organisations will be employee-owned in 2013.
In that survey, a staggering 86 percent of respondents indicated that they would purchase either iPads or similar media tablets this year. And, according to research by SaaS security provider Zscaler, Apple's iOS is the most popular operating system in the workplace, representing 50% of all the devices accessing its cloud, compared with Google Android (37%) and BlackBerry (15%).
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept has been a growing trend for some years; employees do not want to be constrained by the technology their company chooses for them. Often the technology employees own at home is superior to that which is on their desk at work. In addition, employees who own iPhones and iPads are finding them to be useful addition to their working tools, enabling them to work at home and on the move.
There are certain security risks associated with this BYOD trend, however, which are leading some companies to ban these devices from being used for work purposes. However, these security loopholes are mainly due to the majority of employees' personal devices not having any form of security software loaded.
With BYOD set to become even more popular, the challenges in managing the security, infrastructure and support costs become a priority.
We asked Darren Gross, EMEA Regional Director at Centrify Corporation, for his thoughts about how employees can convince their management to let them use their own devices, and how IT staff can support these devices and ensure that security isn’t an issue. Here is what he had to say:
When you manage your Apple devices at home, the process is fairly straightforward. With iCloud, nearly all your personal data can be automatically backed up and stored securely with the click of a button. An AirPort router with Time Machine offers similar functions in the home.
However, for organisations that have previously had to secure only desktop PCs within their IT infrastructures, the influx of Mac and mobile devices being used for business and to access corporate email can be difficult to manage. With sensitive business data moving freely beyond the office, companies need to be able to trust their employees and have the ability to secure company data on any device.
The difficulty is that IT departments have different aims than that of the end user. While an employee’s aim would be to access emails on their MacBook and iPhone, the IT manager’s aim is to keep the network secure and operating efficiently.
So how can someone convince management that letting team members use Apple devices will work for both the business and employees?
Do not expect the IT department to presume that employees will want to bring Apple products into the workplace. IT managers aren’t looking for additional work, but if enough people can persuade senior management that a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy would offer productivity gains and make the company a more attractive place to work, then there is a good chance that management will start to discuss internally what should be put in place to make the assimilation possible.
Look into where other BYOD policies have been successful and find case studies in similar scenarios to your own employer (for example, maybe your competitors provide BYOD programs to employees which might add further incentive). Then, you can show that other enterprise deployments of Apple devices have worked, and that you believe it can do the same in your business.
Any BYOD policy will impose restrictions on what people can do with their devices. So, it’s probably worth getting used to some baseline rules and best practices now. Make sure that every device you own is password protected and turn on the Find My iPhone feature (which also covers iPads, iPods and MacBooks). Companies will have to make sure that policies cover standard security requirements, so by staying secure yourself it shows you will actively help the company in protecting its sensitive data. Some security vendors such as Centrify now offer free, yet robust, security tools that are cloud-based making it easy for IT staff to apply security policies without having to purchase or deploy software on-premise or on the device. Point your IT staff to some of these free tools that are being used by a growing number of organisations. You’ll get some credibility too, by demonstrating to your IT department that you are taking security seriously.
If you feel that you can get around company policy restrictions by jailbreaking or rooting a device to add additional non-Apple approved applications, then be aware that certain mobile device management (MDM) solutions can detect and remotely disable these devices. Jailbreaking exposes the business to security threats that the original software was there to protect against. It’s always better to work with a policy and report where its shortcomings are before trying to circumnavigate them. Be prepared to accept some IT controls in exchange for using your preferred device.
Suggest a trial run with just your own devices before expanding the policy company-wide. It could iron out difficulties in the system and by volunteering you will have a direct influence on the programme. Plus, you’ll be savouring the end result before anyone else.
If you follow these basic guidelines, then the business can see that its employees understand the needs of the company and are willing to work with the security restrictions that will be put in place. With additional support from colleagues and an emphasis on involving high-level decision makers, you might be surprised how quickly a business allows Apple devices to replace the office norm.