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Harnessing the BYO application trend to your advantage

Harnessing the BYO application trend to your advantage
July 26, 2013in Business2013-07-262013-08-08businessen
A new trend is seeing employees source and download their own enterprise applications. How can you benefit from this initiative?

A new trend is seeing employees source and download their own enterprise applications. How can you benefit from this initiative?

The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) trend is evolving. Known as Bring Your Own Application (BYOA), this phenomenon is seeing users sourcing and downloading their own enterprise apps, putting employers at risk.

As employees take productivity into their own hands, IT is losing control. However, IT departments are often unaware of apps coming into the workplace and are failing to provide employees with ‘approved’ enterprise applications.

BYOA can be also beneficial, increasing employee productivity and engagement. But for this consumer behavior to work in harmony with business IT, attitudes must change.

“IT is not keeping up with the changing demands and behavior patterns of the new mobilized, consumerized workforce,” says Richard Absalom, consumer impact technology analyst at Ovum. ”If employees are sourcing their own applications to do their job, then IT is not delivering the right tools or a good enough user experience for its employees.”

beyond email and calendar

The trend for bringing devices such as tablets into work was a precursor to the BYOA phenomenon - and it is still key to it now. Nearly 70% of employees who own a smartphone or tablet use it to access corporate data, according to Ovum’s figures. The figures show that 15.4% of these do so without the IT department’s knowledge - and 20.9% in spite of an anti-BYOD policy. 

Meanwhile, the personal tablet market continues to grow, and with tablet ownership by FTEs rising from 28.4 to 44.5% over the last 12 months, more businesses are seeing these devices - and associated applications - on their networks.

According to Ovum’s research, employees are using email and calendar on both corporately provisioned and personally owned devices. However, they are also sourcing new-generation cloud productivity applications, such as enterprise social networking, file sync and share and instant messaging (IM) or VoIP.

And the evidence indicates usage on a large scale; with 25.6% discovering their own enterprise social networking apps. Meanwhile, 22.1% of employees are discovering their own file sync and share apps and 30.7% are sourcing IM/VoIP apps. 

But trying to stop this change is fruitless, and could pose even more risk. “Trying to stand in the path of consumerized mobility is likely to be a damaging and futile exercise,” says Absalom. “We believe businesses are better served by exploiting this behavior to increase employee engagement and productivity, and promote the benefits of enterprise mobility.” 

security and mobile device management

According to Ovum: “The new challenge for IT is to strike the balance between meeting the needs and requirements of the consumerized employee to avoiding driving behaviors out the line of sight and control of IT, while at the same time keeping corporate data secure.”

And while it is hard for firms to avoid employees bringing their own apps into the workplace, security must be managed. Mobile Device Management (MDM), which is often in place as part of a BYOD strategy, can solve some security woes caused by BYOA. IT managers and CIOs can use services such as a partition to separate enterprise and personal apps, and put measures in place to wipe the device if it is lost or stolen.

Yet this does not necessarily protect firms from malicious apps unwittingly downloaded by employees. As well as putting measures such as encryption in place, one option is to employ an enterprise app store, to guide employees to ‘approved’ business apps - giving more visibility to IT.

Enterprise app stores are growing in popularity, according to analyst firm Gartner, and by 2017, the analyst says 25% of firms will have one in place.

greater control

Enterprise app stores increase security by promising greater control over the apps used by employees, as well as limiting software expenditures and giving firms negotiating leverage with app vendors.

“Apps downloaded from public app stores for mobile devices disrupt IT security, application and procurement strategies,” warns Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner.

“Enterprise app stores promise at least a partial solution but only if IT security, application, procurement and sourcing professionals can work together to successfully apply the app store concept to their enterprises,” he says, adding: “When successful, they can increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses.” 

And as the BYOA trend continues to grow, it is essential that businesses manage the deluge of apps entering the workplace. By managing employee-introduced productivity apps and outlining a clear strategy, the trend can actually be used to firms’ advantage.

An enterprise app store, or list of ‘approved’ applications gives employees the chance to take productivity into their own hands, without IT losing control.

Find out more about taking full advantage of the BYOx revolution in our detailed white paper.

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