It is hard to hit a changing target!

We have seen, heard and experienced various kinds of mobile devices; mobile phones, tablets, the old palmtops and any others you can think of. It’s been over 20 years since the first palmtop computer appeared that carried your documents around for you. It was innovative, interesting and certainly effective. The concept of ‘on the go’ documents has not changed even today and we still ‘want’ to work away from office and save the files. But, unlike the earlier practice, we don’t want to carry around the documents in the mobile device; waste of space. This is where ‘cloud’ came into play; the far-away magical land that stored all your information and data without having to worry about being stolen. None of this is new to us because we are habituated to this technology and cannot imagine a world without it.

The need to work away from office has brought the world to accept various terms: BYOD, BYOA, MDM, CYOD. It is a mounting demand from the employees to allow them to merge their professional and personal worlds. Blackberry began the trend of a corporate life away from the desk and the market followed. Each time a new abbreviated term related to mobile devices in the corporate network evolves, the IT department loses sleep. This puts tremendous pressure on the IT department to maintain the confidentiality of official data and poses as a challenge to overcome. With Blackberry, the corporate data was secure due to the high focus on enterprise security. Now with newer mobile devices, the need for focus on security has increased.

Currently 25% of enterprises worldwide have adopted the MDM technology. (Here we are talking about enterprises that use mobile device managing tool but not necessarily the employee’s own.) In a 2012 Gartner survey, 44% of enterprises in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries provide technical support to personal mobile devices while only 28% of enterprises in non-BRIC countries adopted BYOD. This study is indicative of the acceptance in the year 2012. Gartner also reported that 75% of enterprises will adopt MDM by 2017.

But, who or what is the current target to hit?

The Android market share was predicted to reach 50% by 2013 and now, we are looking forward to a 72.4% in the next 3 years. Why is this important? Because mobile apps have become part of our day to day business engagements. With respect to Android devices, the device itself isn’t important. It can be a Samsung mobile or a Google Nexus 4 or a Sony mobile or a Samsung tablet; all of them can install the same apps when need be. The compartmentalization of apps in any android device is missing. Inter-accessibility of data between apps is possible in android devices. So the real menace of the enterprises today is the list of applications and not the devices.

The BYOA (bring your own application) is the invitation for employees to use the apps of their choice. But there is an asterisk on the invitation; you can use only the apps that are allowed. This practically means that there are two lists of apps, one restricted list of apps and the other with the ones that are allowed. You will be permitted to use the corporate network only if you follow the rules. As we all know, there is always a % of employees who enjoy not following rules. To monitor their(among others) activities using the corporate network, MAM is the ideal solution. It is viewed as an intrusion into the employee’s privacy in more ways than one. But, isn’t it true the other way around too?

Now here is another foe creeping into the corporate data; the new moving target. NFC – Near Field Communication. It has been around for almost 2 decades but the technology is now being used in mobile handsets to transfer data without the requirement of a network. It is the ‘fun’ element in most mobile phones, especially with its ‘pay-thru-touch’ option. You don’t need to carry a wallet ever again! It can also be used instead of the access card in office and ‘order alert’ in restaurants. Now here is the scary part… this is a channel for data to be transfer to devices without access to the corporate data. If we don’t watch out, data leakage won’t be difficult.

So you see, it is difficult to hit a changing target. But we love our challenges… let’s play to win!

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About the Author: Shannon Lewis

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