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The battle to bring your own app

Adam Bender | Jan. 29, 2015
Some CIOs are exploring how BYOA initiatives can drive business productivity.

The CIO should not fear this potential source of productivity, he says. "At the end of the day, the technology needs to work for the business. It's not about IT deploying a technology; it's about a tool for business.

"Mobility has been and will be a very disruptive technology for IT. Good organisations will actually look at how to leverage that technology for the benefit of the organisation. The deployment and the management of these devices is really about balancing risk and security and looking at how we can maximise investment."

Block and tackle
Neither Coca-Cola Amatil nor CASA has adopted a formal BYOA policy as yet, and both use enterprise app stores to take greater control of the apps used by employees. Several other organisations do not allow BYOA at all.

One of these is White Retail Group, the managed service provider for Terry White Chemists and several medical centres across Australia's east coast. The company's IT manager, Darryl Roberts, says the security risks of BYOA are too high for a company in the healthcare sector.

He describes the company's BYOA policy as a battle of "trying to convince our users not to install Google Chrome". "What they do at home, they try and come in and do inside the network," he says.

To combat this, Roberts has set up automated alerts that detect executable changes on PCs and notify IT what has been installed, at what time and on what PC.

Other responses to BYOA allow only specific apps, or situate personal apps on a designated network. The Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) restricts what apps can be used on its network with "comprehensive whitelisting" using mobile device management (MDM) software from Good Technology, says CIO, Peter Bickerton.

However, the agency has a separate Wi-Fi network that staff can use for personal apps. Users seeking to access webmail, for example, can do so only on the wireless network.

Security is important to TGA because as a government agency it possesses commercially sensitive data, says Bickerton. "The last thing that we would want is a loss of reputation because there's been a leakage of sensitive information."

However, the CIO acknowledges it's impossible to enforce a complete ban on personal apps in the workplace. "The horse has bolted on that one."

Responding to BYOA
Whatever the challenges, BYOA is not a lost race, says Telsyte analyst, Rodney Gedda. But he does admit enforcing a BYOA ban is unsustainable.

"For most CIOs in the general government and corporate space, it's prudent to have BYOA as part of your mobility strategy and not to ignore it," he advises.

Telsyte's Australian Enterprise Mobility Market Study 2014, a survey of 460 CIOs and ICT decision makers, reported 27 per cent of Australian organisations allow employees to use personal apps with no restrictions, while 25 per cent allow BYOA from an approved catalogue of apps.

 

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