The Always On Employee: What Does MDM Mean for Me?

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Are you a bring your own device (BYOD) rebel rouser? A freewheeling employee using whatever mobile device suites your computing style whenever? If so, it\’s important to know about mobile device management (MDM) strategies and what your employer may have coming down the pike that may or may not crimp your work style.

\"iphoneThe consumerization of IT, another term for the BYOD trend, is a grass roots movement by employees using their personal mobile devices, i.e., iPhones, iPads, Android, and WP7 devices, on the job. For businesses, it\’s their worse nightmare – they had the control and now they don\’t. Well, they want it back and MDM is a key tool to track, monitor and manage the mobile experience while securing business data and intellectual property.

The good news for both users and IT organizations is that MDM is evolving from a heavyweight management style to a lightweight management style. What that means, according to Gartner, is that the traditional core capabilities of MDM, such as provisioning, policy enforcement, asset management, administration and reporting are expanding to include new areas such as containerization, mobile application management and enterprise content management.

The question is, what\’s your company going to do about it?

Industry experts report that in 2012 consumer mobility and BYOD programs are top priorities at many organizations driving the MDM market estimated at over $500 million.

Up until recently, IT department\’s provisioned the hardware employee\’s use and the applications they accessed. The new hard reality is that non-technologists are in the drivers seat demanding freedom of computing choice. This shift in the relationship between employees and employers is dramatic and represents the next paradigm in computing.

For years, the thinking in most businesses was that best technology driven ideas came from the IT guys. It was the technologists that had the inside scoop on the latest technology trends, made the argument for the acquisition of technology resources and steered the ship.

What\’s more true when it comes to technology is that the best ideas come from the business user and never more so than today because he or she is mastering the latest technology at home – hardware, applications, social media and cloud services. Now these individuals are bringing their knowledge to work.

In fact, for technology enthusiasts, no place is sacred. In an IDC 2011 Consumerization of IT survey participants admitted to fitting in work time while on vacation, in bed, during commute time, at family gatherings, while watching TV, and, yes, even at a place of worship.

\"powerpointEmpowered with the right support and permissions, this new crop of mobile-driven employees can turn their ideas into reality, implement them at work and improve processes and productivity for the company. Why would any company want to squash that?

How to make the consumerization of IT a win-win for businesses and employees? Companies need to reassess the risk/reward proposition of using technology as desired. \”If they don\’t, it will prevent businesses from seeing the opportunity to improve the customer experience and solve business problems,\” says Ted Schadler, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Try to box in employees or lock them out and they\’ll just go underground. \”Companies have to know, what\’s the carrot and what\’s the stick,\” he adds.

Seize the Opportunity

Finding the right balance between what the BYOD employee wants and the security and assurances a business demands is something that Steve Chong, manager of enterprise messaging and collaboration at San Francisco-based Union Bank, part of UnionBanCal Corp., continues to navigate.

The bank went from being a long-time user of Research In Motion (RIM) Blackberry devices for messaging to currently supporting about one-third of the financial company\’s 11,000 employees who use their mobile device of choice for work. The mobile device users range from senior executives to day-to-day task managers.

About four years ago, Union Bank selected Good Technology\’s Good for Enterprise, for secure mobile email, calendars, contacts and collaboration. The product offered the security, management and features that Chong was looking for.

\”It allows the employee to do whatever they like on their device and the only piece that we manage is the Good client,\” he says. From a support perspective, Chong only manages the application and not the device. \”The security of the data is handled in the product,\” he adds.

Good for Enterprise protects corporate data on the device through a separate and secure container that separates business data from employee\’s personal information without putting restrictions on personal usage. The vendor pioneered the approach of complete corporate containerization.

\"motorolaA critical security feature of Good for Enterprise is the ability of the product administrator to erase data, or wipe the device remotely, in case it\’s lost or stolen. That\’s a must have feature for financial institutions, like Union Bank, who must adhere to multiple government regulatory and compliance requirements for data protection among other things. The product provides Chong with security policy enforcement, passwords, encryption, remote device lock-down, and end-to-end-visibility for support and troubleshooting.

Union Bank is on the brink of rolling out Good for Enterprise Secure Browser for access to web-based corporate applications behind the corporate firewall. \”BYOD leads to increased productivity and innovation,\” says Chong.

Forrester\’s Schadler believes that there\’s a way to find balance between what the user wants, what the business wants and innovation. It\’s called the HERO Compact – a three-way agreement for managing technological innovation. Schadler\’s HERO is a highly empowered and resourceful operative.

In a nutshell, the HERO compact requires a promise between employees (HEROes) and the business: the HERO agree to behave responsibility or to innovate within a safe framework, managers agree to encourage innovation, and IT agrees to support and scale up HERO projects rather than shut them out.

Just Getting Started

The initial panic of BYOD is beginning to settle down as the industry accepts smartphones and tablets as a new form of engagement for the worker and designs strategies to optimize this reality. Gartner reports that in addition to Good, other companies introducing more lightweight MDM solutions include AirWatch, BoxTone and Symantec with more to come.

The future for MDM is application management says Schadler. That means securing business data at the application level.

Good Technology, for example, has a platform for this called Good Dynamics for developing and managing secure mobile applications. Good Dynamics AppKinetics is the vendor\’s patent pending application-to-application secure data exchange.

The vendor offers developers the Good Dynamics DSK to build mobile secure apps and is also creating an ecosystem of secure mobile ISVs for secure access to third-party applications such as Box, for cloud collaboration, among others.

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