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Welcome To The Age of Consumerization

From the experts | Posted on July 25, 2012 by Lesley Morris

The way people work is changing dramatically. Everyone is bringing their personal devices into the office, which has led to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend.

A recent Infotech Indaba survey found that the use of personal and unmanaged devices and applications within businesses is at an all time high. “The consumerization of IT is happening within businesses despite those businesses not necessarily being ready for it,” says the report. “Beyond simply accepting the presence of consumer devices, businesses should establish a base level, proactive and open approach to their use.”

In the survey, 82% of IT decision makers ranked security as a barrier to accepting personal and unmanaged devices into the business, followed by managing those devices at 66%.

But doing nothing — or banning those devices — is impractical. Also, many employees are using their personal devices for productivity reasons, which ultimately benefits the business.

Mobile device usage in organizations is expected to quickly outpace traditional forms of computing, surpassing desktops and laptops by 2013, according to Infotech Indaba.  Considering that 30% of mobile devices are lost or stolen, it is left with a management and security conundrum.

Are you going to support Apple’s iOS in a Microsoft environment? Can you identify a jailbroken iPhone and prevent that from accessing the corporate network? Can you block employees from syncing their corporate data with iCloud?

IT has a lot of questions, but there aren’t simple answers. From a technology standpoint, the industry is immature, and vendors are responding to these trends with a wide variety of solutions. From managing identities and network access (like Cisco ISE), to management platforms that are incorporating support for new devices like Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), to “pure play” solutions from a host of new vendors like Airwatch and Good Technologies, to client virtualization as a strategy.

For example, Microsoft’s SCCM is shifting toward a user centric management model, designed to put users first rather than systems. SCCM 2012 is attempting to provide “lite management” capabilities for the iPhone, Android and Windows 7 Phone through an Exchange ActiveSync connector; however, deep management is still a post release promise unless you look at management pack add ons (like the one offered by Quest).

Then there’s the niche approach, which includes RIM, Good Technologies and AirWatch Technologies. RIM is tackling multi device management with BlackBerry mobile fusion (it recently acquired German MDM firm ubitexx), which manages the BlackBerry environment along with mobile devices running iOS and Android.

While platform offerings tend not to provide deep level management, niche offerings tend not to manage a whole lot but they manage the mobile space very well. For IT, there are a lot of choices —and a lot of confusion.

Aside from technology, there’s also a human component, and that’s where things get complicated.

What rules are employees subjected to if they use their personal devices for work? What happens if the device breaks and it’s not under warranty? Is IT going to pay for or support any of this?

Businesses and their IT departments need to develop strategies that balance user demand for access to these devices and applications with the organization’s own capabilities and requirements, recommends Infotech Indaba. Its survey found that 50 per cent of organizations that rolled out MDM had improved access for remote and mobile employees, as well as increased satisfaction for both IT and end users.

Turning to a trusted advisor can help organizations sort through the options and develop a roadmap for the future. “We’ve got the resources to help and an agnostic approach — we’re not going to advocate either a platform or pure play approach,” says Bryan Rusche, Manager of Solutions Marketing. ” It’s about understanding an organization’s requirements, what they have today and what will help them support this client revolution.”

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