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BYOD and ITSM: What you need to know

Gerard Norsa | May 6, 2013
Highly functional personal devices are increasingly being adopted as technology tools in enterprise IT environments. This represents yet another challenge for CIOs and senior IT managers trying to use standards and frameworks-based IT service management (ITSM) processes for better governance and business benefits.

Staff and IT have different views

It is hard to determine how much impact BYOD has on existing ITSM processes and help desk support but there is some research that suggests it is not as much as you might expect.

Lee Ward, vice president and general manager, IT outsourcing, for Unisys Asia Pacific said that while the adoption of personal devices represents "an unstoppable trend" this doesn't mean it is unmanageable.

She cited "2012 Unisys Consumerisation of IT" research -- completed by Forrester -- which showed that IT support for company-owned smart phones and tablets in Australian organisations has nearly doubled from the previous year. Interestingly, it also showed that support for BYO devices has decreased significantly compared to 2011.

"Perhaps this is because there are some fundamental differences between how employees and the IT department view IT support requirements for BYO devices," Ward said of the Forrester research.

"The study found 52 per cent of Australian IT and business decision-makers believe that employees who encounter trouble with their personally-owned devices are most likely to contact the IT department.

"However, the same report showed that 60 per cent of Australian employees say they are most likely to troubleshoot the problem themselves. A further 14 per cent say they will ask a friend. BYO devices won't necessarily create the strain that IT departments fear"

Good ITSM is the safety net

Security concerns are often raised as a barrier to more organisations embracing a broad-based BYOD strategy. According to Unisys' Ward this is a legitimate argument.

"Most organisations are relying on passwords -- a relatively primitive solution -- to secure their mobile devices and applications," Ward said. "A truly effective security approach requires a combination of strong policy and technology as well as the means to enforce both.

"Organisations have to think about security measures such as mandatory certificates, password, token and/or biometric locks as well as the use of secure VPN."

Di Data's Jansen said that a lot of planning is required to circumvent security risks.

"You have to put in place solutions to manage the security and risks while having these clearly defined in the BYOD policies," he said. "Communication is also important. People need to understand how the corporation will behave to offset risk.

"The most important aspect is to remember that BYOD is a journey. As technologies and processes evolve they are able to increasingly offset existing, new and perceived risks. The BYOD approach can be adjusted over time to reflect a comfortable security posture."

Macanta's Ferris said that clearly "security and risk have been the biggest concerns of IT management since the advent of the BYOD trend" but added that this should not stop the progress.


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