The BYOD Challenge: Balancing Productivity with Security

By Cat Yong

There are a lot of reports coming through that are in favour of as well as against the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. For Intel, this trend is inevitable. “According to Gartner, irrespective of what you think about it, it absolutely is going to happen,” said Prakash Mallya, sales and marketing country manager of Intel Malaysia.

Besides 3rd party reports from the likes of Gartner, IDC and so on and so forth, Intel’s own surveys more or less affirms. “From the users’ point of view, there are research reports we have done across multiple countries, and even 3rd party reports; there is one that finds 66% of Malaysian users are saying BYOD makes the job at the company much more attractive. They like the flexibility,” explained Prakash.

The internal Intel experience
Across mature and emerging markets, Intel has also found that users like the flexibility, while companies like the productivity. In fact, the best example of companies benefitting from BYOD is Intel itself.

“Our position in the BYOD realm, is not (just) that people can bring devices from their home,” said Prakash who also added it’s more about how they ‘make’ the barrier that is already collapsed and hazy between work and play.

Boundaries between work and play have collapsed,
and seamlessness between devices is expected too.

“In Intel, we have a set of standards which are pretty used in a way, but also pretty well thought through. For phones, we have a certain set of models and certain set of operating environments specified, and you can just go pick what you want. “

As long as devices and their operating environments are within guard rails established by the company, employees have choice about what they wish to use or do, and the same applies to a certain extent, even onto non-PC devices like tablets.

“We have actually been front runners when it comes to supporting and making employees absolutely adopt a flexible approach to work and play… so as of last year we have about over 23,000 devices deployed across employees, which is 38% higher over 2011 itself.

“And we are managing these devices across 65 countries, which is quite a feat.”

And in the over 3 years that they have done this, they have managed to achieve over 7 million hours of productivity savings.

Prakash emphasised, “In the end, as an employee, as a person, I can tell you I feel extremely empowered. As long as it’s within guidelines, I can just go pick (device) I want, and use it how I want.”

Approaching trends
Organisations that embrace BYOD are also seeing the need to provide apps for employees, for enhanced and end-to-end security. This enterprise app store trend also exists within Intel with apps for travel, work and more.

“There are some like the enterprise resource app, which allow creation of workflow apps available across multiple platforms. For example, a few years ago I couldn’t get approval emails about that workflow on my phone. Today, I can. Because of ActiveSync, I could approve it on my mobile or on my PC,” Prakash explained.

“Given that smartphones and devices are going to be much more ‘with you’, the apps have to work across multiple platforms. And therein lies our strategy of ’how do we go make the experience available to employees without disrupting their lives with the technical parts of it?’”

“In the end, we have taken the position saying it’s going to happen, because majority of workers in workforce today going forward is going to be the youth. They have never encountered a situation, where they did not have a device to play with. They would not want the approach of limited device choices and their workplace telling them, ‘It’s going to be only my way,’” Prakash emphasised.

Getting ready
“Back to security, the premise we have built is that across devices, how do we make management simple and easy-to-use? What we did is specify platforms; we made sure that the best-in-class technologies that we have on our own, are going to get deployed in a particular way, so that it is very secure for people to use,” said Prakash.

Many of Intel platforms have inherently built-in security features like Intel vPro, Anti-Theft, software-enabled encryption and identity protection.

Prakash reiterated, “We believe that security cannot only be a software-play. It cannot be as secure as we want it to be if it is only a software play, and that’s why we want to build more and more into the silicone…the acquisition of McAfee helps us go make that happen.”

Getting into the software space, definitely has its advantages. It has enabled security to go beyond hardware restrictions of processors and too small device form factors.

Prakash shared, “We have built a set of requirements that are essentially linked to operating environments on phones. So, we have guard rails established, and within those guard rails, employees can go pick whatever they want to. And we make sure that the stack or software build being loaded on any of the devices is 100% secure, and always connected to security updates.

“If you are roaming around with devices that store very confidential information, fair enough, but how do I make that experience really secure without impacting your productivity?” he asked.

“The position Intel has is that Intel is an enabler of technology. And it goes back to point that Intel is in best position to deploy BYOD (because it) has a bird’s eye view,” offered Prakash.


*This article also appeared in Enterprise Innovation*

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