Are Indian enterprises BYOD ready?

by Sohini Bagchi    Mar 21, 2013

byod ready

If you are under the impression that the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon is taking the industry by storm, you need to think again. Many Indian enterprises are not comfortable implementing BYOD practices in their organizations as they believe that it unnecessarily increases the burden on the IT department. According to a recent survey by IT security association ISACA, over 46 per cent of Indian companies have ruled out the use of personal mobile devices for work, with 56 per cent of Indian IT leaders saying the risk outweighs the benefit.

The security association also noted that several other countries are also following this trend of resisting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs. In Europe the number is pegged at 39 per cent and in China and the US, the figures stand out at 30 per cent and 29 per cent, the ISACA survey found. Indian firms also ranked the highest at 58 per cent in prohibiting employees from accessing social networking sites from a company-owned device.

The BYOD challenges

Several public sector enterprises and government organizations are been critical of adopting BYOD strategies. Many of them believe that unregulated network access as well as lack of data management is the key challenges facing Indian firms and they often find it difficult to safeguard their confidential data when employees use their mobile devices for work.

“BYOD was never a key technology that featured in our IT agenda,” says Shrawan Kumar, GM-IT at Allahabad Bank, one of the country’s leading PSBs. He believes that while this approach can bring productivity benefits to businesses, it also poses several security risks. The threat from unprotected employee mobile can result in financial loss and legal liability.

Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) also believes BYOD doesn’t make much sense to their business. “The organization has ruled out any kind of bring your own device schemes as a matter of policy owing to some of the sensitive nature of our data,” explains B Negi, IT Head, HPPCL. However, Negi is not averse to BYOD. He believes that such concepts may be prevalent in the near future because of the ubiquitous nature of mobility.The implementation of BYOD also depends on how the top management is responsive toward this trend. The ISACA report notes that if business heads are not fully engaging in risk management and encouraging BYOD, the organization would remain resistant to brining their mobile devices at work.

Growing trend of BYOD

Even though the ISACA report shows a lack of interest by Indian enterprises are reluctant to embrace BYOD, a section of the enterprises and some analysts are very enthusiastic. “BYOD is here to stay. With smart devices becoming affordable and wide ranging, it’s no longer possible for IT departments to try and restrict the mobile device usage for business purposes. BYOD allows users to be comfortable with their technology of choice while providing significant productivity. As the work force becomes increasingly younger and tech-savvy, it makes good sense to allow BYOD, while ensuring that the security is not compromised and information is not leaked,” says Suresh Vedula, Director – Enterprise Channel, Nokia India.

A recent Juniper research has also shown that the number of employee-owned smartphones and tablets used in the enterprise will more than double by 2014, reaching 350 million, compared to almost 150 million this year.Although the ISACA report points out that in India the private sectors companies are becoming much more accustomed to bringing their own mobile computing devices, it states that many of them do not have adequate policies in place resulting into security risks. Jaideep Ghosh, Partner KPMG states that BYOD can be a preferred option as long as enterprises understand its implications and take adequate security measures. “CIOs should keep a track on the various activities on their employees’mobile devices such as the emails, documents and installed apps. They should also be agile about the policy management and have strong authentication as well as device management policies in place.

Aggelos Grypaios, VP- Business Development at Globo. “Instead of discouraging employees from using their personal devices for work, companies should be focused on creating a BYOD program and policies that fits their objectives, says Grypaios. Defining and managing a BYOD strategy that protects the security of the employee and the employer will keep companies competitive in the market by creating a mobile workforce, he believes.

Experts believes that, even though the public sector organizations are largely reluctant to welcome BYOD at this point of time, in the next few quarters,  many of these firms will embracing it with the huge shift taking place in the enterprise mobility space. So one can conclude that with greater awareness and adoption of security measures BYOD strategies will only continue to grow in the enterprise.