Don’t Just Stand There – Do Something!
While employers see value in the use of consumer technologies in the workplace, many are unsure how to address security and support issues and so have not implemented official Bring Your Own (BYO) technology programs. But employees aren’t waiting for their employers to catch up and are already bringing their own mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones into the organisation, often blissfully unaware, or not understanding the full impact of, the resulting security issues.
In the blog post, Enterprises Beware: Don’t Let Security Fall into the Consumerization Gap, we discussed that the majority of IT decision makers who responded to this year’s survey on the consumerization of IT cited security concerns as a key barrier to enabling employees to use personal devices and consumer applications for work.
So employers realise they need to get on top of the issue but, as they see all actions as urgent, don’t know where to start: from determining the best way to deliver IT support, improving security of data and access, strengthening policies and compliance, setting up employees with mobile devices, and transforming the data centre to effectively deliver data and applications to support the use of mobile devices.
With so many competing priorities it’s no wonder organisations are daunted by the challenge and feel overwhelmed. How do they start proactively managing consumer technology in the workplace?
The following plan of action provides a logical process to bring the influx of consumer technology under control.
- Take stock – Understand what technologies are being used by employees and address the security risks to gain some control over what’s currently being used.Conduct an audit asking employees to identify the technologies they are bringing into the workplace and nominate the others that they would like to use but aren’t yet doing so.
After doing this you can then create an enhanced security environment comprising a number of elements such as policies, procedures and security software to address the employee-owned mobile devices and any new devices introduced by employees or the organisation, and the use of social media.
However, balance protection with enough freedom to use the devices and social media in a way that delivers productivity benefits.
- Identify weakest points – Strengthen security at the weakest points – the devices and the network – to ensure data isn’t compromised. You can do this a number of ways including the use of digital certificates for authenticating users on the network and compulsory PINs to secure mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.Network Access Control (NAC) provides a layer of protection against improperly used, infected or rogue endpoints attempting to connect to internal network segments. NAC does this by requiring devices to prove they are safe to connect to the network (pre-admission), and dictates where endpoints are authorised to go and what they are authorised to do. If the endpoint doesn’t meet the entrance criteria, NAC technology can quarantine and remediate non-compliant, infected or miss-configured systems.
Create or revamp policies (and enforce them) in combination with IT security solutions to manage employee use of these technologies, and then provide employee education on their appropriate use.
- Determine best deployment for business benefit – Look at how to best manage devices and support users. Some ways to support users include self-help portals (covering the most common problems), support via chat/instant messaging, and a virtual service desk with FAQs and training videos is especially good as it can be available 24/7, which matches the ability to “work anytime/anywhere” nature of mobility.Decide who in the organisation should get to use consumer-style mobile devices to deliver benefits to the business – it may not be the top brass.
Integrate new technologies into existing support models rather than create new models just for new devices or applications. Consider building more self-service tools to reduce pressure on the IT support teams.
As users become more mobile, use remote management technologies such as Mobile Device Management Solutions to deliver security updates, deliver applications and provide support. Consider that managed service providers can support a wider range of new technologies faster than in-house IT teams.
Once the security and support issues have been bedded down, organisations can start to look for innovative ways to modernise or develop new enterprise applications that make use of the mobile devices and social media to improve or replace business processes.
The reality is consumer technology is coming into your organisation in droves; it is time to take control and transform the way you do business to harness the true value these new technologies have to offer.
We would love to hear how you are adopting consumer technology to improve employee productivity or change the way you deal with your customers. Please submit your comments below.