Mobility in businessTechnology has transformed the way we do business.  From clinical cubicles and being in an office 40+ hours a week to open workspaces, multiple screens, VPNs, and home offices, as technology advances, so does the way we work. With the advent of the mobile phone, came the age of enterprise mobility and a change in how businesses buy, sell, innovate, collaborate, and all around operate. Now organizations are finding the need to stay ahead of new technology trends and incorporate them into their business’ daily operations. As employees are now always on the go, businesses are forced to develop mobile strategies that will secure information and limit unauthorized access while providing employees the flexibility, features, and on-the-move environment they desire for a more productive workday. Be on the look out for these mobility trends that are sure to make an impact in 2014.

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

Businesses are increasingly following this trend by no longer providing personal devices to employees, but allowing them to use their own cell phones, tablets, and laptops for both work and personal uses. Unfortunately, this can poke a huge whole in a business information security protocol as employees don’t want their personal use monitored, nor will it be certain that proper security measures are taken when information is moved through the devices.

The “Must-Have” Next Big Thing

As technology continues to advance rapidly, it can be expected that as each new technology comes out, employees will want to upgrade and will likely use them for work purposes. This poses a threat to IT because with smart watches, high-tech glasses, and cameras, data will be everywhere, and protecting it will be increasingly more challenging.

The Move to the Cloud

One of the benefits of utilizing cloud storage is the ability to store and share content in one place that can be accessed from different users and different devices in different locations. Access to corporate cloud storage will have to be limited and monitored, especially to prevent data breaches and leaks from non-BYOD elements, such as a public library computer.

Security and IAM (Identity and Access Management)

Enterprises must understand that their mobile users will be accessing sensitive data from their personal devices, which may not have any form of security on it. One way enterprises can protect their data when in the hands of mobile employees is through the three forms of Identity and Access Management – single sign-on, access control, and privacy controls. This may not be enough even when combined with other methods of protection including encryption, and anti-malware/spyware software. Unfortunately, with the abundance of different operating systems, uniform security policies cannot always be enforced on all devices. This is where a layered security approach can take effect. Securing the network will protect information as it travels in a mobile environment. Securing the storage location, such as database encryption or cloud security will protect the information as it sits on a mobile device. However, for ultimate data security, enterprises will need to obtain a deeper level of protection, on the file itself, so if any other protection detail is compromised, the data itself is still secure.

Change in Infrastructure

Enterprises may find that with the deployment of BYOD strategies, there is an increasing dependence on wireless providers for fast and reliable service. However, many providers just aren’t capable of providing the high-level service enterprises need and often have issues, such as lack of coverage, poor quality, and slow service. In order to deal with these issues, enterprises will turn to managing on site communications infrastructures by separating the BYOD devices and enterprise devices by putting them on separate networks and managing bandwidth and network capacity.

Content Collaboration

Enterprise mobility has disrupted and forever altered the way people work. Mobile devices are no longer just a means of communication, but are becoming the main devices used for collaboration, content creation, and social sharing. Software and applications that were once leaders in desktop use now have to develop for ease of use on tablets and smartphones because that is where users are moving. Employees that use non-enterprise level file sync software such as consumer-oriented Dropbox are putting business information at risk if proper security measures aren’t taken.

Mobile Apps – Development, Scanning, and Wrapping

Enterprise “endorsed” apps for employee use are typically outdated, poorly designed, and a pain for employees to work with. It has become more commonplace for employees to find and use consumer apps developed with greater UX (User Experience) to complete their tasks. Unfortunately, this method often leaves IT departments in the dark with little or no visibility into the activities of the employees, which poses a great risk to the security of company data.

IT administrators are finding themselves scanning commonly used apps for security risks. Because employees are constantly looking for better business apps, IT must ensure third-party applications meet the organizations security guidelines. They look for apps that access privacy settings, have malicious code, work over insecure networks connections, and anything that poses a threat and is unsafe for business use.

IT administrators also utilize app wrapping to ensure applications used for business purposes are secure. Apps can be prevented from opening files in other applications, block the copy/paste function, and other DLP (Data Loss Prevention) mechanisms while allowing administrators to devise a simplified user experience and enabling a single sign-on requirement.

Developments in these tools will have a positive impact on business operations, differing from other trends. Organizations will be able to develop, secure, and manage business applications critical to operations.

When new technology comes into play, adopting it is not usually a businesses first instinct. However, with the ever changing IT landscape and employees rampantly obtaining and using new technology for business purposes, businesses have learned to get on board. With the unstable nature of mobility in a corporate environment, allowing such things as BYOD and cloud services must be thoroughly thought through with proper processes put in place to best utilize the technology to the business’ advantage.