Recently, we learned that a majority of organizations are planning to deploy line-of-business apps in the next twelve months. What does that really mean for the BYOD policies and mobile device management? A new survey from Fiberlink, a leader in cloud-based solutions for secure mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) reveals that business users are growing more concerned about privacy.
Your Mobile App is Watching You
Whether or not employers will be actively collecting employees' personally identifiable information (PII) through mobile devices is not clear, but just the idea that they could (or will) have access to it, is alarming to users. Yet no one denies the utility of having smartphones and tablets in the enterprise -- or that using apps specifically developed by the company does help to keep sensitive information secure.
The information collected is only as good as it is used to make business smarter. Information like location and app inventory is available whenever employees "opt-in" to a mobile device management application -- the solution that enables BYOD, security, policy enforcement and app management for many organizations. Tracking the location of drivers and other utility workers is helpful to keep productivity high. However, it’s also possible that employers can remove personal files, such as pictures and music, even if the user is simply getting access to corporate email through Exchange ActiveSync. Unless they are specifically informed, through an acceptable user agreement and mobile policy, many employees have no idea that this kind of control is possible. There is definitely a fine line between what is needed to help run businesses efficiently and what isn't.
Trust & Transparency are Key to the Success of the Mobile Enterprise
The Fiberlink survey found that business users are overwhelmingly concerned, and would not allow employers to have this access into their personal lives.
While 82% of respondents consider this ability to be "tracked" an invasion of their privacy, 76% would not give their employer access to view what applications are installed on their personal device. Additionally, 75% would not allow their employer to install an app on their personal phone which gives the company the ability to locate them during work and non-work hours in exchange for receiving corporate email and gaining access to other corporate resources. Of course, they may already be giving access without realizing it.
What’s the enterprise to do? Transparency and trust are key to developing BYOD policies. Creating a culture of fear is never good and if it can be avoided by defining very clear guidelines -- or by shutting down BYOD altogether (IBM recently curtailed the use of personal devices) -- it’s definitely worth it.
Education is another serious component to the BYOD conversation. Learning that your employer has the ability to track your location is worrisome, until you learn how it can impact business. Still, concerns about privacy should not be easily dismissed and companies can expect to have to address them.