Public Banks still skeptical of BYOD

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 04, 2013

byod banks

The bring your own device (BYOD) has already become a catchphrase in the enterprise circle in India with companies increasingly allowing their employees to being their own devices at the workplace and access data and information. Several researches reveal that enterprises across verticals are cozying up to this concept and are seeing a lot of benefits. However, the same cannot be said about the banking industry in the country. A recent report by Banking Frontiers reveals that although the trend is fast catching up in India among corporations, banks continue to take a cautious approach when it comes to BYOD implementation. CIOs and IT professionals in the country’s banking sector continue to remain resistant to the BYOD trend with over 58 per cent reporting that the risk outweighs the benefit.

The report observes that private banks are relatively optimistic when it comes to BYOD implementation and some of them are gearing up for the future BYOD needs, but Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and that of cooperative banks are still wary of its adoption.

Still wary of BYOD

The CIOs and IT leaders of most PSBs believe that it is better to adopt a wait and watch approach to BYOD than jump straight into it right away. According to Paul Abraham, COO, IndusInd Bank, BYOD is not as easy as it may seem. It goes beyond technology aspects and can have a profound effect on business. “While it does provide some way to reduce costs, the real value of a well designed BYOD program is increasing employee satisfaction and speeding up the rate of technology adoption in the enterprise,” says Abraham to Banking Frontiers adding that the success of any BYOD program will depend on early penetration and an understanding of the nuances of the program. And this will take some time in this sector.

While there are a few apparent benefits most banks see in the adoption of a BYOD program, the blurring line between bank’s data and personal data are often seen as the greatest threats. Security is considered to be the biggest concern when it comes to BYOD deployment within banks.

As Shrawan Kumar, GM-IT at Allahabad Bank points out, BYOD comes with the challenge of network and data security. “As such there is a lot banks are doing in terms of strengthening their security systems. So this will currently increase the burden as employees need to be constantly traced.” He believes that device management and monitoring are important considerations when it comes to implementation of this practice. The other key challenge is that BYOD entails setting up of a new infrastructure and ensuring support for diverse technologies in a non-standard environment.

CIOs believe that by implementing BYOD, an enterprise can save hardware and software cost and even electricity cost to some extent, but you need to spend money to upgrade IT security which needs to be checked periodically through IT audits for securing data information, points out the IT manager of a corporation bank on an anonymous identity. He also adds that non-involvement of business heads and budget constraints are the greatest hurdles for smaller banks in India to adopt the practice at present.

An evolving concept

Although there are several challenges of implementing BYOD and it is not in the top of the agenda for most banks in India, many of them believe that they are already using some kind of BYOD practices within their organizations. According to R. K. Chhattani, DGM-IT at UCO Bank, employees do access some of their data from smartphones and tablets but the core banking system, including the highly sensitive and classified data are restricted.

Experts point out that in order to implement BYOD successfully, banks have to come up with specific security plans. In the first place, the IT department should specify what devices and apps are permitted and establish a stringent security policy for all devices. Next it should define a clear policy under BYOD Criteria. Abraham points out that before BYOD policies are implemented, it is important that users are educated on the use of this trend for which they need to understand BYOD policies as well as the rationale behind it.

Chhattani points out that banks should also remember that even employees are their customers. “Allowing employees to use the latest consumer devices and applications for work can certainly help organizations to improve efficiency and employee satisfaction. From that point of view, going forward, employee demands and the productivity gains will enable banks to embrace BYOD in the near future, despite security and other concerns.