Enterprise Mobility Management Must Address Independent Liable Employees
The consumerization of IT is eliciting a number of different responses from corporate network managers these days. While some strategies are better informed than others, perhaps the largest single mistake would be to overlook or ignore this trend. A new crop of tech-savvy employees that are both willing and able to make autonomous decisions outside the purview of IT are changing the dynamics of the workplace, and network managers would be wise to extend an olive branch sooner rather than later.
The most obvious and influential example of the consumerization of IT has been the influx of personally-owned smartphones and tablets in the workplace. Instead of relying on enterprise mobility platforms of old that included a company-owned BlackBerry and limited set of authorized applications, technologically literate workers are becoming their own advocates and supplying themselves with the tools they desire. While some workers are doing little more than accessing work email on the iPhone they got for Christmas, others are going much further.
In fact, a new survey from Forrester Research found that “individual contributors,” or those using personal technology to conduct their work, spent an average of approximately $1,250 on hardware and $550 on software last year. Nearly half suggested that their out-of-pocket purchases would not be well received by company administrators, but nearly 30 percent made the decision out of frustration with their organization’s current technology.
There are two important points to be taken away from those findings. One, the willingness to spend large sums of money on their own accord suggests that there is clearly a demand that their IT teams have not fulfilled. Additionally, these sizable investments will likely further embed a sense of ownership that could complicate company-designed mobile device management efforts if not handled correctly.
While these autonomous employees may prefer to operate outside of IT’s jurisdiction, the truth is they need support. According to the latest research from ESET, many workers are failing to take even basic mobile security precautions. More than one-third do not encrypt files or activate the auto-lock feature on their devices. Additionally, one in four have been the victim of a mobile malware attack or hacking incident.
To make sure the needs and concerns of both IT and common employees are heard and addressed, the two sides must come together and share an open dialogue before any effective enterprise mobility management framework can be constructed. Considering what is at stake for the company, IT must proactively initiate the conversation instead of waiting for the employee to step forward.
Administrators must understand and emphasize the importance visibility and prioritize this goal above all others. It is better to have the risky behaviors of a few in full view rather than hoping for the best and leaving security entirely up to the employee. The obvious way to do this is through a well-designed bring-your-own-device program, but the challenge is selling it to the workforce.
Chances are, employees savvy enough to acquire and use advanced mobile apps are also wise enough to understand the business context of their actions and how they could put the company at risk. IT must hold up its end of the bargain, however, and respect the personal privacy of users by implementing the least obtrusive MDM solutions possible while still covering potential liabilities.