Think about the typical tasks expected of corporate IT departments in today’s business environment. IT professionals are still expected to issue hardware – laptops, PCs, telephones – acquire business applications, monitor security and oversee data backup with regularity.
However, the exploding popularity of mobile devices has taken many traditional IT tasks out of the hands of in-house professionals. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend means more work is being done on personal devices introduced into the workplace by everyday employees, with IT managing fewer devices overall.
Data from IDC shows that in 2012, smartphones represented nearly 70 percent of all personal devices individuals used for business, while tablets were at just over 40 percent. PCs had only around 5 percent of the BYOD share. By 2016, IDC expects smartphones to remain prevalent in workplaces, but predicts tablets to climb to more than 60 percent in usage.
The resources needed to secure and manage these devices are costly and sophisticated, spurring more IT execs to partner with managed services providers for support with network management, cloud backup and data protection.
This introduces an interesting question: what exactly does corporate IT own in today’s business environment? The answer is simple: work data.
IT departments a guardian of corporate data
Bob O’Donnell, Vice President of Clients and Displays at IDC, said as much in a presentation last month at Directions 2013 in Boston. O’Donnell says that while more users are managing their own work devices independently, the IT department remains the custodian of corporate data.
That’s how it should be, as work data needs to be secure. And it’s no secret that many IT executives are reluctant to widen access to sensitive information to a higher share of potentially unsecure devices. It doesn’t help matters when reports of lost or stolen data reaches the ears of IT decision makers.
UK-based data governance firm Varonis released research in March that reported half of surveyed companies lost a device with corporate information on it, while more than 20 percent said they had an incident where a missing device had significant security implications.
That’s enough to make any IT execs’ skin crawl, but most recognize that it’s futile to battle the BYOD trend. That same Varonis study showed 86 percent of employees surveyed said they’re “obsessed” with their smartphones and tablets, meaning IT departments must get used to the idea of everyday employees accessing corporate data via personal devices and implementing their own unique IT infrastructure.
Of course, IT decision makers aren’t alone, and many will seek solutions to secure and safeguard corporate data.
With virtualization and cloud backup, MSPs providing solutions
That’s where MSPs can add significant value. Changing IT realities and responsibilities present an opportunity for the channel to step in and provide mobile security solutions, experts say.
O’Donnell suggested a rising profile for mobile virtualization and “containizeration” technology, which would establish unique personal and work profiles on mobile devices to ensure work data and personal data are kept separate. That would make it easier for IT departments to manage, secure and potentially wipe corporate information from employees’ devices when necessary.
And of course, as the profile for cloud-based mobile virtualization rises, so too will the need for cloud backup and recovery. MSPs that include cloud backup as part of a wider data protection service offering will be able to cover their business clients on all bases, making sure IT departments have the tools to secure corporate data on more devices and recover important information in the event of device or server failure.
Mobile IT and BYOD is the new corporate reality, but IT departments aren’t helpless to fulfill their duties as data guardians. Savvy MSPs with service catalogs that are packed with data protection offerings can serve as the partner these professionals need to protect their most important asset.