Thursday, January 3, 2013

Understanding the Full Scope of the BYOD Opportunity for Carriers

by Ray Greenan, Global Marketing Director, Symantec Communications Service Providers

Over the past couple of years mobility has become one of the most important business and IT strategy topics, and the focus on it is only going to increase in 2013. It has also become increasingly difficult to have a discussion on business mobility without it including the bring your own device, or BYOD trend.

In fact, recent research by analyst firm Ovum indicates that by 2017, there will be 443,939,000 BYOD mobile connections worldwide. This number is impressive on its own, but is even more striking when it is compared to Ovum’s estimate that there will be 532,778,000 corporate-liable mobile connections worldwide by 2017 as well. Thus, in just five years from now there will be nearly as many employee-liable devices moving in and out of corporate networks as there will be corporate-liable devices.

At first glance, the concept of BYOD is quite simple: Allow employees to supply their own devices, thereby increasing employee satisfaction and hopefully reducing capital – and perhaps even operational – expenditures. Generally, and especially for the purposes of this article, the “device” in BYOD refers to mobile devices, particularly carrier network-connected connected smartphones and tablets.

However, for all its potential benefits BYOD also creates security and management challenges. After all, at the end of the day, BYOD involves IT relinquishing at least some control over the devices connecting to corporate networks, resources and data. As always, there is some risk when relinquishing any such control.

Because of this, impressions of BYOD range from company to company, with some embracing it wholeheartedly, some remaining cautiously optimistic and some still approaching the topic with outright reproach. That said, there is also a common belief among nearly all of these organizations: BYOD in some form or another is largely inevitable.

Nonetheless, companies realize that BYOD within their organizations is going to happen whether they promote it or not, thus many are coming to the conclusion that they can at least make it on their terms. This involves efficient enabling of employee-liable devices, establishing strong policies for their acceptable use and utilizing technology to enforce those policies and secure mobile devices against a myriad of threats, from loss or theft to malware.

When all of this is taken into account, there are many companies that simply either cannot or do not want to assume this burden. Some of these are enterprise-class organizations that are finding it more financially viable to outsource the management of their mobile infrastructure, while many others are small- to medium-sized companies who do not have the resources. After all, SMBs often already have their hands full with managing the demands of their traditional IT infrastructure and endpoints. Add mobility and BYOD to the mix and often overtaxed IT staffs become spread even thinner.

This is all excellent news for the wireless telecommunications industry. Why? Because herein lies a tremendous opportunity for carriers who have developed a trusted network to step into the role of managed service provider for companies such as those described here. And while some are already doing this to a degree, there is much more opportunity than first meets the eye. In fact, there are five specific areas of business mobility carriers should seek to address on behalf of their customers. 

These include:

App and Data Protection
Business data must be protected at all times. This is a primary objective of any IT organization, and the reason that most IT technologies exist in the first place.  Mobile apps are the primary method to access, view, store and transmit that data, so both apps and data must have controls and protection appropriate to the company and industry.

User and App Access
At all times, the people, the apps and the devices that are connecting to, and accessing, business assets must be identified and validated as authorized business participants. Identity is the first and most important component to any IT strategy, especially where mobility is involved because device and cloud access is not inherently as strict.

Device Management
Devices that access business assets and connect to company networks must be managed and secured according to applicable company policies and industry regulations. Every company should establish appropriate mobile policies, and those should be applied to all managed devices.

Threat Protection
With the incredible growth of mobile devices, they are rapidly becoming a key target for cyber criminals. Protecting devices and the apps and data on them is paramount to secure business data. Good threat protection should protect from external attacks, rogue apps, unsafe browsing and theft.

Secure File Sharing
Although mobile access, storage and sharing of files is not a challenge unique to mobile, the fact that a mobile device is typically one of multiple devices a user may have, the cloud is the obvious and simple solution for distributing and synchronizing information across devices. Businesses should have full administrative control over distribution and access to business documents on any network, and especially in the cloud.

While some carriers have begun to step into the role of managed service provider in some of the areas above, none have addressed all five areas. They are not offering a holistic managed security and management experience. Carriers would do well to expand their services offerings and the mobile security and management market has matured to the point where effective, scalable solutions are available to help them do this. Doing so will not only benefit their customers, but their bottom lines as well.

About the Author

Ray Greenan, Global Marketing Director, Symantec Communications Service Providers, is responsible for strategy and implementation of Symantec marketing solutions designed to help Communication Service Providers transform their networks and businesses to deliver new applications and services to their customers in a secure and reliable way.

Prior to his current position, Greenan spent 14 years at IBM where he held multiple positions including Global Marketing Executive, Service Delivery Platforms which focused on IBM's Service Provider Delivery Environment, SPDE and Marketing Program Director for the IBM Green Data Center group which focused on Green Technology and Sustainability for the Utility market and its customers. He also held the position of Power Marketing Program Director responsible for strategy and execution of marketing programs for the Greater China Region for IBM¹s Power Architecture and
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Greenan was awarded a Masters in Business Administration in Management Information Systems from Manhattan College, where he also received his Bachelor of Arts in English. He has also earned certification from NJIT for Sustainable Design and Green Technology.
About Symantec

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