One of the central challenges of what has been termed 'consumerization' is how to balance the benefits experienced by employees using their own devices and applications, with the inherent risks to the business of doing so. The bottom line is one of cost - while employees may be more productive as a result, working more efficiently and delivering results faster, if something goes wrong the business may be left out of pocket.
The risks are real. Consider the simple example of someone accessing corporate email on a personal device, against the fact that 60% of mobile device users don't have a pin code. Given that smartphones and tablets are frequent targets for theft, it seems only a matter of time before internal corporate communications, intellectual property, even customer data could end up in the wrong hands.
At the same time, mobile access to data and services really does make people more productive. Even if it were possible, a ban on smart devices wouldn't help anyone as they have become mission critical in many organizations, ensuring that people can be contacted, that information can be transferred, that services can be accessed. Sometimes, truth be told, this is because traditional tools are simply too unwieldy - why carry that old laptop with poor battery life around all day for example, when a simple smartphone will serve to keep in touch?
Clearly a balance needs to be struck between enabling employees - from the CEO to front-line staff - to use the technologies they rely on (whoever bought them), while ensuring risks to the organization are mitigated. To achieve this requires considering security at every point in the architecture that is under the control of the IT department, with a focus on one of the organization's most important assets - its data.
It may not be possible to manage non-corporate devices, for example. However the types of data shared to such devices can be controlled, as can the apps which can access them. As we look at helping customers protect their data assets, a more architectural view enables a shift in thinking from individual technologies to what they enable, for example from "how can you manage a device" to "how can you secure the experience".
No two organizations are alike. Each faces different challenges. And, each organization has different attitudes – particularly, on how one should respond to changes in the way business is conducted. Some organizations, or indeed departments, may be prepared to place a great deal of trust in their employees, whereas others might prefer a more locked down environment. As a result, it just isn't possible to come up with a single answer that will protect organizations of every shape and size.
Our approach is therefore to provide a range of tools which can be used to provide the right level of protection according to each organization's policies and needs. From mobile device management to data leakage protection, from comprehensive information management solutions to VPN and remote gateway facilities, we enable enterprise customers to build the kind of security they need, across the architecture.
We are in a new era - of user empowerment. By aligning with the realities of today's business environments, we're helping our customers meet their evolving needs, rather than simply trying (and potentially failing) to lock down anything IT-related. As a result, consumerization of mobile device usage does not have to result in increased risk to the business.
Interested to hear more about what we do at Symantec around Mobility? Come and meet us at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Symantec booth Hall 5, Stand 5D31.
We look forward to seeing you there.