BYOD Options: The More, the Messier

BYODOrganizations are finding increasing value in allowing a wider array of devices to be used for company business. From improved worker satisfaction and productivity to reduced communications equipment costs, this simple perk makes a surprising difference. Before implementing a flexible bring your own device (BYOD) program, a number of key factors must be considered to protect company interests.

Security Provisions

One of the most concerning issues for organizations considering a BYOD program is the perceived lack of control over the device, especially as it relates to security. Any equipment capable of accessing company networks or data represents a point of risk of exposure. An important part of a successful device strategy is to dictate certain requirements for all devices involved.

For example, the policy may call for active anti-virus applications on any devices that will be used. Access to sensitive data may be configured so that a VPN tunnel must be used rather than straight access from a suspicious hotspot or public Wi-Fi. A PIN or password on the device could be another requirement. These types of tactics allow any device to be used with less risk of data loss or compromise.

Employee Training

In some cases, data breaches result from a lack of employee training. Without being educated on why public hotspots could be dangerous, a worker may not think twice about connecting to their work email from the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. Teaching staff about phishing, rogue applications designed to collect payment and authorization information, and ways to physically protect devices from being lost or stolen increases their awareness. Giving them the tools to help protect the company and themselves minimizes the chance of a security incident from a BYOD connection.

Manageability

Another troublesome “control” issue within BYOD programs is how to terminate access if an employee leaves. Removing company data, applications, and connectivity may seem impossible. However, with today’s mobile device management tools this task becomes painless and efficient. Devices that are lost or stolen can be deactivated or wiped, access can be deleted, and sensitive information tightly secured.

Application Selection

Last but not least, choosing the right applications for use across the company is a necessary part of the BYOD conversation. For example, applications that are strictly on-premise or legacy are going to be out of reach for most, if not all, mobile devices. Ensure that cloud applications are secure and compatible with other company systems before choosing to implement them.

BYOD programs take significant burden off of IT personnel who would ordinarily be inundated with acquiring, provisioning, supporting, configuring, and deactivating devices. Workers get more done with hardware they’re most familiar with and enjoy the freedom to use their preferred devices. Flexible BYOD strategies can be quite effective with an appropriate measure of preparedness. For more information on creating effective mobile policies, contact ROI Networkstoday.

BYOD Policies in Educational Institutions: Impact on Data Security

shutterstock_278120690smWith a growing number of schools embracing the bring your own device (BYOD) trend among student populations, security concerns have emerged as a hot-button issue. Given the amount of sensitive information and personal data schools possess, IT systems in educational institutions need to institute effective safeguards to keep hackers and cyber criminals on the outside. Following are some emerging strategies that educational institutions are using to safeguard the personal information of both staff and students.

Create and Implement Strict Policies

When instituting a BYOD policy at an educational institution, it is necessary to set up clear and strict guidelines regarding acceptable usage. Such policies must apply to everyone using their own devices in the school setting, including both staff and students. These policies should specifically define what is and what is not allowed, framed within the context of protecting all users from possible security breaches.

Keep Critical Data Accessible Only to Those Who Need It

Schools are hotbeds of sensitive personal information, including everything from examination results and scholastic performance to details of possible physical and/or mental health issues. Cyber criminals often target this type of personal information, and it must be kept behind added layers of security to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Allowing only authorized individuals access to the networks and systems where this information is stored is a key component of BYOD security at schools. Additional protections, including encryption and/or biometric identifiers, can be considered as ways to stop sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Protect Devices that Access Social Media

Many users, including both staff and students, will be connecting to social media websites with their own devices. Unfortunately, these sites tend to be a prolific source of viruses and other forms of malware, making it essential for individual devices to be properly protected.

Experts recommend requiring all BYOD users to have and run antivirus software on devices used on the school’s network. Password policies, automatic time-outs, and device locking can all be considered as supplemental strategies to prevent the spread of viruses and other threats.

When properly applied, BYOD policies at schools help foster 24/7 learning while reducing technology budgets and improving resource accessibility. These advantages are best leveraged in tandem with effective security policies that protect IT resources and users alike.

How Unified Communications Increase Company Visibility, Desirability for New Hires

Unified CommunicationsAs companies prepare for their next hiring wave, they should be focused on how to make themselves the most attractive potential employer to a tech-savvy job candidate. Unified communications (UC) is an effective way to lure in talent and is easy to implement.

A company that has made an investment in UC easily stands out to the highest quality job seekers.

BYOD and Remote Work

Today’s employees are increasingly virtual, accessing systems from a home office or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangement. Not only is this beneficial to employee morale and output, but the company saves overhead and office space by facilitating such a culture.

It is imperative that both remote and in-house employees are able to fully collaborate with other team members. The BYOD and remote realms are truly where the strength of cloud computing and a solid UC program pays off. Devices can be enabled with all of the company’s necessary software for voice and data – a fantastic way to keep employees tied in to the organization from afar.

Productivity Perks

One of the best things about cloud is that it is always accessible, making it a reliable conduit for VoIP (voice-over Internet protocol). Think of the productivity saved if incidents such as major weather events did not force employee absenteeism and team members could remain fully functional through a private and secure channel.

With cloud solutions, business continuity becomes simple and effective since employees can operate from remote locations that were removed from the incident. Response time to a disaster can be reduced since teams have immediate access to systems and to one another.

Upgrade Communication

UC allows team members to stay in constant contact in the most protected manner possible, no matter where they are physically located. A strong UC program provides global instant message, phone, web conferencing, and email.

New employees will stay engaged and interact with other team members in a powerfully collaborative environment. For sales organizations, this could reduce the time to recognizing revenue. Customer service reaches new heights of excellence, and creativity is enabled through brainstorming and idea generation.

In an age when employees still indicate that communication can be a challenge for organizations, any effort to build a cohesive communication plan is well spent.

Overall UC Benefits

The world is becoming a smaller place through UC. Implementing a robust UC plan will help a company’s HR team attract and keep the best candidates. In doing so, the business can conquer immense strategic goals and grow toward greatness.

[Infographic] Enterprise Mobility Strategy: BYOD or CYOD?

Companies large and small understand that having a mobile workforce can provide a competitive advantage. So why hasn’t every business ‘mobilized’ then? Enabling a company’s workforce to go mobile isn’t as easy as walking into a cell phone store and buying a phone. For businesses, it’s much more strategic, with aspects like cost and data security to be considered. This infographic highlights two popular strategies for businesses interested in going mobile. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device). Is one right for your business?

ROI-Infographic-BYOD-CYOD

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Cloud-based UC: The Emerging Solution to Enterprise Communication Challenges?

Cloud based unifiedAs the Unified Communications (UC) market continues to grow, enterprise adoption of cloud-hosted UC services has also gradually increased. While more and more enterprises are becoming interested in cloud-hosted UC services, many large organizations are still not fully committed to this concept.

UC providers can accelerate the adoption of cloud-based conferencing, video, voice, instant messaging, and other collaboration services by continuing to address the current challenges of enterprise communications. Even more importantly, they must clearly inform the IT decision-makers in organizations how their solutions solve relevant problems.

Consider these four challenges organizations face which can be solved through UC solutions:

Satisfying the evolving needs of the mobile workforce

  • The workforce is increasingly younger, more technologically-savvy, and more demanding in terms of their technology requests.
  • Almost 50% of the workforce will consist of the “millennial” generation by 2020 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Workers from this generation not only want the latest devices, they also want to be able to work on them from anywhere in the world.
  • IT needs to equip this tech-savvy generation of workers with the latest collaboration tools. Cloud-based UC is best-suited for this task of fulfilling the needs of the emerging workforce.

Enabling cost-efficient productivity

  • Organizations want to enable their employees to collaborate in a way that eliminates unnecessary inter-office travel. Cloud-based UC must thus deliver the full range of communications that allows such collaboration.
  • Employees must be able to quickly shift between services such as video and web conferencing to preserve the “real life” experience of these technologies.
  • Users need to be able to use any device from anywhere, and to shift among devices as needed.
  • The UC service must be high-quality and available 24/7; users won’t adopt it without a seamless user experience.

Supporting fixed-mobile convergence

  • The convergence of multiple communication types is desirable and convenient for the enterprise as well as the employee. Cloud-based UC can provide these important conveniences.
  • Employees want the convenience of a “single number reach” to eliminate communication disruptions between desk and mobile phones.
  • Businesses are burdened with multiple service contracts for various types of telecommunications; convergence among these services using cloud-based UC simplifies the billing process and reduces expenses.

Providing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tools for communications

  • The popularity of BYOD enables cloud-based UC to both streamline and separate communications services through dual persona solutions.
  • “Dual persona for UC” is a way users can securely access all of their cloud-based unified communications services from a single device, including voice, text messaging, video calling, and instant messaging.
  • Users are attracted to dual persona because it provides simplified but separate access to both corporate and personal communications services from a single device.
  • Cloud-based “dual persona for UC” gives employees the freedom they need and enables the enterprise to maintain security and control over corporate communications.

The adoption rate of cloud-based UC still leaves a lot of room for growth, but the evidence suggests that there is a clear market need and demand for these services. Cloud-based UC developers must keep these enterprise needs in mind as they refine and market their solutions.

The Role of UC in Business Processes

Technology within the business sector is a fast-paced environment, and it is constantly changing. In the past, the same device and method of communication was required for one person to contact another person.

The communication was also dependent on location. This applied to both synchronous telephony contact and asynchronous messaging. These days, such issues are irrelevant with the introduction of wireless and now Unified Communications (UC). This introduction also allows business processes to create personalized notification messages to send to users.

The flexibility of UC is now more important than ever. Today, the recipient’s control over their incoming contact plays a big role in communication, as their time, preferences and location can all be considered. This applies whether it’s a video call, voice call, IM or message. It is no longer reliant on the contact initiator to dictate the method of communication.

Due to these advancements, two application-based communications should be considered. The first being a contextual contact initiation and the second where the business process initiates contact, also known as CEBP (Communications Enabled Business Process). The majority of UC strategies do not yet include the full capabilities of CEBP. Instead, they still focus on person-to-person contact. In such a fast-paced technology environment, voice-over IVRs over the PSTN will soon be replaced with visual self-service applications and contextual communication that is processed over an IP network.

The flexibility requirements of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile communications not only apply to internal employees, but also to customer interactions and business partners. UC is vital in providing personalized notifications to such BYOD contacts and will also add to the self-service mobile apps by allowing click-for-assistance capabilities. This results in CEBP communications playing a massive role in UC flexibility, which works well for contact initiators as well as the contact recipients.

In order to accommodate UC into business processes, planning needs to be on top of the agenda. It will take more work than just transitioning from the telephony systems on desktops. It is vital that UC is incorporated into mobile business process applications. This will enable them to be at the forefront of person-to-person contact, providing flexibility and an ease of service.