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BYO devices, apps find acceptance

Date

Trevor Clarke

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Corrs Chambers Westgarth, one of Australia's leading law firms, will allow its employees to bring their own device and software applications to work, leading other Australian organisations a step further into the bring-your-own technology landscape.

Director of technology Berys Amor said 58 Android, 455 Apple iOS, and two Symbian personal devices were currently supported. Most were owned by employees who would not have received a company-issued smartphone or tablet in the past. It includes those that also receive BlackBerrys.

The firm has about 1100 employees.

''At the moment our corporate mobile device is the BlackBerry and we have obviously had a lot of requests and demands to use other types of smartphones and devices,'' Amor said. ''So we chose to go down the BYOD path and that led us to how we could secure the corporate data.''

The firm found it could ''sandbox'' and encrypt data on employee devices via a mobile device management (MDM) software solution, delivering security similar to the BlackBerry. Employees with personal devices compatible with Good for Enterprise are now able to access email, contacts and calendar.

As only a few were eligible for BlackBerry devices in the past, BYOD allowed more people to stay connected, Amor said. ''So, we've expanded greatly the number of people who can receive work email without having to expand the fleet.

''We never set out to see if we can reduce costs. Really there was a demand for it and it was about staff satisfaction. Even some of the people with a BlackBerry wanted to receive their work email on their iPhone as well. They are happy to carry both devices.''

The firm is also trialing tools that will enable a controlled form of bring your own app.

''We are looking at Good Dynamics, which allows you to open documents from Good for Enterprise in a secure container and then annotate them, edit them and then save and send them back,'' Amor said.

Self-developed and vendor-created apps could be chosen for use by employees if they are listed in a catalogue of compatible software.

A recent survey of 800 chief information officers and IT decision makers by Telsyte found 28 per cent of Australian businesses allowed some form of BYO application, but their unsanctioned use was expected to be significantly higher.

However, these results were representative of the use of consumer applications and not the ''choose your own'' approach Corrs is taking.

''From our perspective we want to be able to edit Microsoft Office documents, annotate them, and share them securely,'' Amor said. ''They are probably our three highest priorities.''

14 comments so far

  • Ooo, dangerous!

    How is I.T. going to keep up their even handed, impartial policy of keeping Apple products out of employees' hands now?

    Commenter
    Tim Balmer
    Date and time
    October 30, 2012, 8:43AM
    • Apple have no one but themselves to blame for their products not being used in mainstream corporate environments. They refuse to integrate their products with any other companies.
      Google 'itunes through a corporate proxy' for some idea of the pain Apple put IT staff through.

      Commenter
      youmug
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 12:47PM
  • We trialed mobile iron, then moved over to Good for Enterprise once it became apparently that mobile iron didn't quite fit our requirements i.e. no security framework built in, does not support Android or Windows devices (a requirement we pointed out to the vendor in the beginning).
    More competition in this area with applications that are similar or same to Good is needed. Since Good are pretty much one of the very few who have a security framework within their application, price can be a bit of an issue as you add more devices (their licensing is per device not per user so it can add up over time). More competition from more vendors, should translate to better pricing for the consumer.

    Commenter
    Boo
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 30, 2012, 9:02AM
    • You only BYOD if the device the employer provides, or indeed does not provide because you arent important enough, does not satisfy your requirements and the requirements imposed on you by your job. For example, as the article made clear, people use their own phones to check emails because the employer doesnt provide a blackberry but requires you to be on call 24/7 and respond immediately. Or it provides a low end blackberry that you cannot use to read documents.

      You really think someone wants to spend $600 on an iphone so they can do their job?

      Essentially BYOD is to cover the gap between what the employer expects from you and what the employer gives to you to do your job. Despite the claims in the article, its all about shifting cost from the employer to the employee.

      Commenter
      asdf
      Date and time
      October 30, 2012, 2:21PM
      • Agreed, good point.

        Commenter
        Roger
        Date and time
        October 30, 2012, 3:59PM
      • In a nutshell, that's it. Plus of course there is a feel good attitude to BYPD - be it Samsung Galaxy S, iPhone, whatever - that many employees will appreciate. Really this is good news - not great news, but good news.

        Commenter
        hayk
        Date and time
        October 30, 2012, 7:19PM
      • really - and not at all about younger folk with iPhones seemingly permanently attached to their hands having choices about where to work, and asking why they can't continue to use them while at work ?

        and given a choice of device for mobile computing - wouldn't an employee's existing iPhone/Pad seem like a cheaper option for the company than purchasing an expensive laptop which is always going to be heavier, more cumbersome, require more power/frequent recharges and can't make mobile phone calls ?

        one theory was that if the employee breaks their iPhone, they pay for it, or worst case, a cost-sharing arrangement based on demonstrated proportion of work-use

        yes I have read the difficulties of companies managing the security of commercial-in-confidence data, and the outrage of employees 'whaddya mean you want to be able to delete stuff off my phone' - but I suspect this trend is driven mostly by consumer demand, and less so by IT departments hoping to minimise costs - not from my readings.

        Commenter
        frank
        Location
        sydney
        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 9:23AM
      • Noone wants to spend $600 on a smartphone just to do their job.

        But more and more people are getting smartphones anyway, so it makes sense to be able to use them to handle their on-the-go work requirements rather than being lumped with another device to worry about. So long as the employer covers any marginal increase in usage costs, I don't see a problem.

        Commenter
        Spex
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 10:55AM
      • They already have the phone in most cases If they wanted me to hook my phone up they can pay the contract

        Commenter
        peterwalker58
        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 12:27PM
      • This is also about flexibility. There are many ways to skin a cat, and providing employees with the flexibility to be able to use the device, os and apps that work for them is good management if you want your employees to be satisfied and work efficiently. Anyone who says that working 8 hours at a desk in front of a work-issued, often out-dated PC is best practice for efficiency, is too closed-minded for this discussion.
        And the next layer to BYOD is about effectively using this mobility to increase operations. For instance: a contractor finishes a job and heads to the office and emails her hours to payroll; payroll, after a couple of weeks, contacts the contract company asking for verification of hours worked; the contract company emails back to say they can't remember what exact hours were worked, and the whole process takes weeks, even months before payments are settled. With an effective BYOD policy in place with infrastructure to back up specialty apps, our hypothetical contractor can now log her info into a software wherever she is, on what device she has, input her hours straight away, and the software allows for all data to be verified and payments made almost immediately.
        There is a lot more to BYOD than just being able to check emails on an ipad.

        Commenter
        mk.mac
        Date and time
        October 31, 2012, 2:38PM

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