BYOD was the buzzword of 2012, it was used by vendors, media, analysts and mobile specialists as a label to describe a shift and evolution in the way people work from personal IT equipment. The term is now commonplace in most IT, HR and management meetings. It’s also one of the first terms brought up when people talk about the future of work in Australia and the way personal device technology can pose risks to organisations, as well as improve productivity across workforces.

For years, we’ve talked about the rise of the mobile worker. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s becoming a reality as people increasingly choose to work offsite, but people seek to maximise the time they spent ‘in transit’ between meetings and while on the road.

So BYOD as a concept is evolving and this year we will see its meaning to organisations of all sizes move beyond device management. A recent study by Juniper Research noted that the number of employee-owned smartphones and tablets used in the enterprise space will more than double globally by 2014, reaching 350 million. BYOD is now as much a part of IT as the internet and it’s in a state of constant change.

Compare today’s workforce with that of ten years ago and the workforce of 2013 would, of course, be considered resoundingly mobile. Today, secure file-sharing and collaboration on mobile devices across encrypted IT networks has become best-practice in BYOD policy. Encrypted file management software is now normal for most organisations with a robust security program. What’s attracting more attention from IT and management teams now is how to leverage secure file sharing and collaboration practices to not only protect intellectual property, but improve productivity, reporting, accountability and bottom line results.

The evolving smartphone movement will create significant challenges for organisations trying to manage and control the flow of proprietary and confidential information outside of the corporate walls and IT policies, as well as improve the way their staff stores sensitive corporate data across multiple locations.

This year, the focus will be on businesses to revisit BYOD policies to ensure they meet the requirements for a workforce in 2013 and actually contribute to improving business performance. By making these policies easy to adopt, organisations are seeing huge benefits.

 Here are my top five tips for meeting user’s BYOD needs in 2013: 

  1. Multi-platform support: With mobile devices using Android overtaking iOS in Australia and Blackberry recently launching its latest smartphone offering, it pays to offer support across all platforms.                                                                                                                                                                        
  2. Seamless access to existing ECM stores: Allow users to gain anytime, anywhere access to data – whether stored in SharePoint or another ECM system – and share files with internal or external audiences, without a VPN.                                                                                                                                        
  3. Tighter encryption: To minimise data breach risks, your encrypted solution should be working 24/7 – even when you’re not. This includes in transit and resting!                                                                              
  4. File sharing visibility: While some industries require reporting and visibility into file sharing, no matter the industry, transparency across document collaboration, sending and receiving is high on the priority list for users and management. It helps people understand where, what and how workflows need addressing – especially in an increasingly agile workforce that demands faster responses from teams and decision makers.                                                                                                      
  5. Restrict consumer-class services: Prohibit users from seeking out their own consumer-based solutions, such as Dropbox, to prevent being left in the dark about where files have been sent and to whom. IT departments seek to offer solutions to trends and demand, rather than posing barriers.

When we speak about ‘transit’, organisations need to consider not only the security of working and collaborating actively online, but also the protection of every piece of information potentially be accessible via a device outside of the workplace eco-system. They also need to consider just who else is using a device, or has access to the device and their browsing habits, be it friends, family members or co-workers.

Many organisations have taken steps to invest in mobile device management, which protects the device and helps set application policies, but they still need tools and policies that protect their most critical information – in some case, long after the document is “complete” and placed into a folder and forgotten.

Kieran O’Shaughnessy is director Asia Pacific at Accellion.

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