Gift, Curse or Both?
Managing your district's BYOD program.
- By Marcus LaFountain
- January 1st, 2014
Almost 60 percent of employees bring in
and use their own mobile devices in the workplace,
according to a recent Ovum study (www.ovum.com).
An end-user bringing his or her own device to work is both a
gift and a curse for any size organization. We see an increase
in productivity, but also the increased threat of data being lost
or stolen. Having a strong Mobile Device Management (MDM)
strategy can help school districts reap the benefits of BYOD
while limiting the consequences.
Productivity: Employees who use
a personal device for work and play are
likely to work an extra 240 hours per year
compared to those who do not. They can
answer emails and phone calls while out
of the office and receive that last-minute
Cost: By not providing every employee with a business-only
device, you can save not only the cost of the device, but the
monthly service plan that goes along with it. A mobile phone is a
cheaper and sometimes more convenient alternative to a laptop
with a 4G cell card.
User Experience: Tech-savvy employees tend to have strong
preferences regarding the technology they use. Letting employees
choose their mobile operating system, screen size and other
technical specs may make them more likely to use the device
rather leave it sitting unused in a desk drawer.
Security: Like businesses, school districts must have policies
and security measures in place to protect their data. As with
many policies, the contents may vary by district. However, every
organization must focus on security and support.
A lost or stolen device is the most common type of security
breach. Both Android and Apple offer AES 256–Bit encryption
as a standard on their devices. Lock screens, passwords and certificates all play a role in device management as well. Microsoft
Active Sync and other software also allow administrators to perform
a remote wipe of a compromised device. This is important
when employees have confidential data on their mobile phones.
Samsung developed an Enterprise suite called SAFE that
allows the user to partition work data with personal data. It also
gives administrators the ability to perform a complete or selective
wipe, track the device and enforce local password protection.
Apple and other mobile providers are starting to, or already
have, incorporated these features as well. If your district is using
application virtualization, you may need to define new rules
for allowing mobile devices. Users will also need a way to get
hold of someone 24/7 in the event of a
lost or stolen device.
Support: This may be a slippery slope
for some. Most IT policies only allow for
support of the organization’s devices.
So who supports a personal device that
is used for business? Depending on the
size of your organization, you may want
to assign a dedicated resource from your
IT security team to manage your MDM policy. Your IT help desk
will need training on the various mobile operating systems and
communication will need to be sent out to end users on how
to stay on top of security. You’ll need to create documentation
about how to set up email, VPNs, and passwords. Do you need to
setup an approved device list or will you allow any manufacturer
or mobile OS on the network? A pilot group (usually IT) will need
to be put in place to test your new systems and policies as well.
Audits should also be enabled to check for OS updates, application
updates, and security updates.
In a growing mobile market and the on demand nature of
workplaces today, IT management will need to be one step ahead
of its users by developing a MDM policy. When developing an
MDM strategy, you must take into account your organization’s
needs as well as infrastructure requirements. Like any new
implementation it is ideal to begin testing your technology and
policies with a small subset of users and conducting a review
process before rolling out corporate wide. Doing so may limit
mistakes while in a beta phase instead of having them on a mass
scale. Focusing on security and support will allow for a comprehensive
strategy that will allow employees to operate efficiently
and productively but most importantly safely.
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.
Marcus LaFountain has worked in IT for the past 10 years as a senior application analyst, deployment analyst and enterprise administrator. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is excerpted with permission from the December 2013 issue of School Business Affairs, published by ASBO International, www.asbointl.org.