Ovum urges CIOs review MDM policies to support BYOD practices

IT departments must review IT support contracts and invest in mobile device management (MDM) for staff using their own devices at work

IT departments must be prepared to renegotiate IT support and invest in mobile device management (MDM) to support staff using their own devices at work.

A survey of 3,796 consumers across 17 different countries by analyst Ovum has found that too much bring-your-own-device (BYOD) activity is going unmanaged.

Almost 20% of the people who participated in the global study who bring in their own devices said their employer’s IT department was unaware they did so. A further 28.4% said their IT departments ignored people using their own devices at work.

“Unmanaged BYOD creates a great data security risk and the implications of losing sensitive data via a personally owned device can be dire from financial, reputational and legal perspectives,” said Ovum analyst Richard Absalom.

"Every business must understand the behaviour of its own employees, which, as we have seen, is likely to be influenced by its location, and manage it according to its risk profile.”

Absalom said there was resistance to change and the shift in people bringing their own devices to work would happen whether or not companies support it. 

“Any policy for BYOD has to be inclusive and optional. You cannot enforce it and you still have to provide devices for people to do their jobs,” said Absalom.

He warned that, in larger companies, with multi-year IT support outsourcing contracts, the CIO may need to consider renegotiating the contract, or bring in a specialist supplier to support BYOD.

There are also tax implications for benefits in kind – where a company provides employees with non-cash benefits – if staff share the running cost of their own devices. 

For instance, it makes more sense for a business to negotiate a mobile telecoms contract than pay for individuals’ voice and data access expenses, said Absalom.

Businesses also need to consider insurance liability, since personal insurance often excludes commercial use of a device, should it be lost or broken at work.

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