The benefits of staff using their own devices for work outweigh the risks - and some basic approaches can cut the risks without killing off the positives, says Bob Tarzey.
Recent Quocirca research among European, US and Australian small businesses emphasises the growth in staff using their own devices to access corporate IT.
Over 70 per cent of firms interviewed said they allowed at least some staff to use their own devices to access certain applications and data.
Chief information security officers (CISOs) in larger businesses admit that one of the reasons their organisations are also observing the same trend is that in practice it's hard to stop.
That's because senior staff insist on such access, while junior employees seek ways around controls, including the use of other communications channels if their personal devices are blocked from access to formal ones, such as corporate email.
However, as the research shows, there are positive reasons for allowing such access. The use of smartphones is fundamental to enabling remote working.
Over 90 per cent of the small business managers interviewed had staff who worked out of the office at some point during the week and they were the ones most likely to be using such devices for remote IT access.
Of course, it is not just smartphones. Many of those employees will already have notebook and laptop computers and they are also rapidly turning to tablets.
Over 40 per cent of the respondents in the recent research said some of their employees were using such devices and another 20 per cent expected this to be the case within 12 months.
In many cases, remote workers - for example, field service engineers logging faults and social workers filing home visit reports - will be using company-issued mobile devices to participate in locked-down business processes.
However, for a growing majority it is simply about more flexible working and access to information as and when it is needed - such 'information workers' are behind the mobility revolution that is going on in the IT industry and readers of silicon.com will mostly fit that category.
However, regardless of all the benefits, information workers present their employers with a problem. How do you keep control of the information itself? How do you benefit from mobility and consumerisation without losing control, becoming a victim of data loss and coming to the notice of regulators?
There is also a problem for the users themselves. As they switch from one device to another for convenience, how do they...
Bob Tarzey is a director at user-facing analyst house Quocirca. As part of the Quocirca team, which focuses on technology and its business implications, Tarzey specialises in route to market for vendors, IT security, network computing, systems management and managed services.