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Organisations are not managing BYOD activity securely

Jack Loo | Oct. 25, 2012
Ovum global study reveals high levels of ignorance by IT departments

Almost 80 percent of today's BYOD activity remains inadequately managed by IT departments, leaving businesses not only at risk of data loss but unable to claim they took reasonable preventative measures, according to research firm Ovum.

In a survey of over 4,000 full-time employees worldwide on BYOD behaviour and attitudes, Ovum analysts found a concerning level of ignorance by IT professionals about the BYOD trend.

Nearly half of the respondents' employers' IT departments either did not know of BYOD or were ignoring its existence, operating a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, while a further 8.1 percent actively discouraged it.

Levels of ignorance by IT were significantly higher in mature economies with more rigid working practices, such as those of Continental Europe, compared to high-growth economies such as Brazil, India and South Africa.

"Despite much speculation, BYOD is here to stay. Therefore, it's worrying to see evidence of such a high proportion of businesses burying their head in the sand when it comes to planning adequately for it," said Richard Absalom, senior analyst at Ovum.

One of the key questions about the outlook for the BYOD phenomenon is whether, as enterprises update their corporate device fleets to the large touchscreen devices that employees actually want and are buying through consumer channels, the effect will be neutralised.

However, Ovum's research shows that 50 percent of employees say privacy concerns would stop them accessing their own personal apps on a corporate provisioned smartphone. For half of all employees, a corporately provisioned smartphone or tablet is not a perfect substitute for a personally owned device, and this will continue to give momentum to the BYOD trend.

Divide between economies

Ovum also finds a divide in BYOD behaviour and corporate IT attitudes between high-growth and mature economies. "Overall, we are seeing more encouragement of BYOD behaviour in high-growth economies, such as South Africa, Brazil, India and the South Eastern Tiger economies, than in mature economies, notably continental Western Europe," explained Absalom.

"The way people work will have a profound effect on how BYOD is rolled out and managed within an organisation. As such, it's imperative that IT departments act quickly to develop and implement clear policies governing BYOD. BYOD can provide an added advantage in terms of productivity and efficiency but to do this it will be important to get the right blend of process, policy, people, and technology management," concluded Absalom.


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