Enterprises need a strong smartphone strategy

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 28, 2013

smartphone strategy

The smartphone revolution offers new ways of increasing efficiency and responsiveness to people and organizations. In the coming months, businesses will continue to drive the sales and adoption of smartphones and smart devices, according to research firm IDC that will prompt more mobile operators to bring to market innovative devices, applications and operating systems in 2013. The competitive smartphone vendor landscape is throwing up newer challenges for CIOs and IT departments to rethink strategies for effectively managing and securing these devices.

Mobile strategist Joe Moriatry in a recent blog mentions that the rise of smart devices would require IT leaders to determine which solutions are right for their organization’s employees. “If not already, CIOs must take this mobile trend seriously enough to start developing a strategy in 2013, ensuring that business leaders are on board. Creating, coordinating, funding, designing and executing a strong strategy will help them manage smart mobility devices effectively,” he states.

Analysts believe that with the consumerization of IT and the BYOD trend expected to accelerate in 2013, enterprises should create and enforce a separate BYOD policy and incorporate smartphones as part of the policy. This means that organizations should have a clear set of policies and standards for smartphones that employees use in the workplace.

“The BYOD policy should fit the specific needs of the company,” says Tim Jennings, Chief Analyst for Enterprise IT at Ovum. According to Jennings, while devising a policy, CIOs should put the employee at the core. The CIO should focus on the users and what they require. “Placing the user at the centre of policy can be the solution. In this ever complex scenario, the device and the platform become less important, whether it is a smartphone or a tablet. Instead, what becomes important is the need of the user and how IT can fulfill his requirement in a secure and compliant way,” he says.

Gartner researchers have also noted several security issues enterprises should keep in mind when implementing a BYOD program. One of these include employee access to unsecure sites that could introduce malware into the company network, data leakage and privacy concerns.
Agrees Anand Naik, Managing Director – Sales, India and SAARC, Symantec as he believes that although smart devices are getting smarter, it comes with its share of increased security risk. The CIO should create appropriate smartphone policies to manage it effectively.

“Businesses that are coming to grips with employees using smartphones should provide a holistic approach or a multi-layer defense in depth security strategy for their employees to access corporate e-mail and other resources while they are on the move,” says Naik.

However, coming up with a smartphone policy that works best for your business is a big challenge. A key security issue with smartphone used by employees is the fact that these phones are typically owned by them and used for both professional and personal reasons, says John Pescatore, Former VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner in a statement. However, there are tools available to encrypt data stored on a smartphone. This is to protect the company’s as well as personal data.

Once the policy has been created, the next step is to communicate it to employees so that they understand their rights as well as that of the company’s, believes Jennings.

The smartphone policy should take into account the devices allowed on the network and must be regularly evaluated, he believes. If security measures such as password protection, data encryption, and remote management capabilities are in place, managing and securing your smartphone will not be a CIO’s nightmare.