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How Blackstone is finding BYOD success with BYOA(pple)

Joan Goodchild | March 5, 2013
Among the 1800 Blackstone employees in 24 offices worldwide, there are currently 600 privately-owned iPads being used for work.

Bill Murphy, CTO and managing director at Blackstone, a global investment and advisory firm, knew he wanted to find a way to allow employees to use their own devices for work. The demand was there, and he was increasingly hearing about how adding in BYOD would help productivity.

"The whole focus on allowing employees to bring whatever device they want was less important than to give them tools that they feel comfortable with, that are easy to use as consumer tools. That's what we've been trying to do -- to make it a pleasant experience to get work done."

But with responsibility for approximately $210 billion in assets, there were naturally a few issues to consider with regard to documents and sensitive information. Financial documents, floating around unsecured on user-owned devices, just wasn't an option.

The answer came in the form of the iPad. About 18-24 months ago, Murphy said the Apple tablet was really catching fire. Everyone had one, he noted, and those who didn't, wanted one. Why not allow employees to use them, restrict BYOD to one platform, and find the tools to secure it?

Today, among the 1,800 Blackstone employees in 24 offices worldwide, there are currently 600 privately-owned iPads being used for work. Murphy expects that number will rise.

Murphy gave us the details of how he secures his employees' devices, and why keeping his policy to BYOA(pple) works.

CSO:What was the main driver in deciding to allow employees to use their own iPads?

Bill Murphy:Productivity was a primary reason. People have been carrying some form of email device in our industry for some time. While folks have been able to do more outside of work with a smartphone, I don't know how many work-related tasks they are able to complete other than checking email on their phone.

The tablet is the thing that changed the game. The tablet is a real productivity enhancer. We see people travel now with their iPad and not bring their laptop. The reading use case on a tablet is way more enjoyable than on a laptop. Every morning I'm using my tablet before I get to work where as previously I sat at a laptop.

We wanted to get that translated over into the office. If you can have all of your documents with you on a tablet, it is so much easier to carry around on a laptop.

What is your security approach to the devices? As a financial firm, you obviously have a lot of sensitive information that needs to be carefully guarded.

There are two types of security. The first is securing the device, and we work with MobileIron on that. With regard to the documents, we work with WatchDox, which offers us a document experience that allows us to put our most sensitive docs in the Watchdox repository, have them sync to mobile devices, and not worry that those docs are going to get in the wrong hands by whatever means.


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