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Mobility requires more than just a BYOD policy

The iPhone came out in 2007, but it’s taken nearly a decade for many IT admins to wrap their heads around mobility in the enterprise. Eight years later, a good chunk of organizations now acknowledge that employees work from their smartphones and tablets, which means IT has to create a secure environment for corporate data.

In this month’s issue of Modern Mobility, news writer Ramin Edmond explains how that strategy has evolved from simple BYOD policies to focus on the applications and data on the device. IT needs to support mobility with a holistic strategy that includes enterprise file sync-and-share (EFSS), mobile content management and enterprise mobility management (EMM) software.

The trick is to avoid treating mobile devices like desktops. IT pros have spent years managing and securing a mostly homogenous collection of Windows desktops and laptops, but mobility requires a more flexible strategy. Most companies’ PCs all run the same version of Windows and include roughly the same hardware, but a group of five employees could be using five different mobile devices, each running a different OS version.

Plus, workers don’t want to give IT the same control over their personally-owned device as it has over corporate-owned PCs. File-sharing services can help IT shops achieve their mobile security goals while still allowing employees to share data with each other and across devices.

“Tools like Box allow us to open that up a little bit more with no data being stored locally,” said Dominic Namnath, CIO at the Santa Barbara, Calif. nonprofit Tri-Counties Regional Center, in this month’s cover story. “That’s a huge difference for us from a security standpoint.”

Box is just one example of the EFSS products out there to help employees work safely on mobile devices. It still makes sense to keep track of and control which devices and OS versions access the network, but by also focusing on the content level, IT can safeguard most mobile endpoints.

“IT needs to focus on securing its data,” said Sean Ginevan, senior director of strategy at EMM provider MobileIron. Ginevan suggested that IT should focus on three questions when it comes to BYOD: What type of data will make workers more productive by having mobile access to it? What are the security implications of that access? And what model makes sense for providing that access?

If you’re still approaching mobility with a device-centric mindset, it’s time to reevaluate.