BYOD: Not Actually So Hot In Australia

BYOD: Not Actually So Hot In Australia

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is often treated as an inevitability. But are Australian companies really embracing the concept? And does the tendency for senior managers to be the first to demand it mean we actually get fewer useful apps in a BYOD environment?

Part of today’s BlackBerry 10 launch event was a panel discussion on the evolution of BYOD in Australia. Everyone on the panel agreed that there’s a growing demand, but that doesn’t mean it’s being recognised in a formal sense.

“Australia is a risk-averse economy, so whilst we have one of the highest proportions in terms of penetration of smartphone, the official support of BYOD tends to lag much of the world,” said Forrester Research analyst Tim Sheedy. Sheedy calculates that just 40 per cent of Australian businesses officially support BYOD, and even that is something of an overstatement. “Probably only about 60 per cent of them have a formal policy in place.”

A truism of BYOD is that it often starts with a CEO tantrum and then spreads elsewhere. “Once you enable the C-level, you have other employees demanding it,” noted BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins. Research by Optus suggests that while just 14 per cent of current workplaces offer mobile access to customer relationship management (CRM) software, that will rise to more than 50 per cent within three years. “It’s latent demand; you get it and you want more and more,” said Optus mobility VP Phil Offer.

The problem with an approach driven by senior executives is it can distort the rollout of actually useful apps to mobile environments, Sheedy argued. “There is a groundswell, regardless of what’s happening at the top level, but it’s the executive that will drive the decision and drive someone senior to out in time or money,” Sheedy said. “But how often are executives in CRM and ERP and supply chain systems? They’re not! They just want the data. The real workers — the ones that make a difference — are the ones who need the apps.”

Sheedy also took issue with the often-heard argument that younger workers are the ones to embrace social networking and collaborative systems. “The need to collaborate is there across the board. The biggest collaborators are generally baby boomers, and do you know why?” Sheedy said. “Because they work from airports and client sites. They’re senior, so they get the trips.”

So does BYOD save money and hassle over a mandated work phone? So far, the answer seems unclear, with the most obvious change being the trading of one kind of IT management pain for another. “There’s some disillusion settling in about that. “I hear from CIOs that smart device management becomes the misery point of their lives,” Heins said.


  • Yet another one of this blogs arbitrary unsourced and undocumented articles about what is supposedly “normal” in Australian industry. Here’s a fact. Nobody cares what some executives of a mobile company think about the way anyone does their own business.

    As a manager of 1500+ mobile devices – I object to the implication that it is “inevitable” we will use a BYOD policy.. And would even like to see if anyone has any factual real world samples of the costs involved vs providing devices (considering most are under “zero dollar” style contracts). Hell, an unnamed telco recently GAVE us 21 GS3’s entirely free not under any contract just to try and sway our business (which they did)..

    $0 for 21 users vs eating our peoples income for a shared purpose device? Hmm let me think about that for a second here..

    • Arbitrary in the sense of reporting on a major tech launch in Australia (probably RIMs last gasp, if BB10 doesn’t take). Tell me, if this selection is arbitrary, what do you consider in-scope for an Australian technology blog?

      Unsourced? Let’s see:

      “Australia is a risk-averse economy, so whilst we have one of the highest proportions in terms of penetration of smartphone, the official support of BYOD tends to lag much of the world,” said Forrester Research analyst Tim Sheedy.

      Looks like a source to me – a rather good one, actually, being an analyst for one of the major global market analysis firms. Sheedy gets cited 5 more times in the article.

      If you’ve got an issue with Forrester’s analysis, go commission Gartner or someone to produce a counter-balance report. We’ll wait.

  • Some companies are terrified of “their” data ending up on a mobile device owned by someone else. I think those companies have a bit of a hiring problem. If you can’t trust your people to do the right thing and follow your policies regarding local data retention, use of lock screen passwords and so on, why bring them in, in the first place?

    I worked on BYOD at a firm in regional Australia. It took an act of God to get access to phone-based Exchange email (natively on their personal phone, not by using Outlook Web Access in a browser) approved for managerial staff even though IT staff had been using it for months. Yeah, I think a help desk tech has so much more to lose (and in some cases, even more access to confidential data) than a senior manager, in terms of who’s the bigger risk to supply with access to email on their personally owned phones. Bear in mind, these managers were just asking to ditch their (coincidentally) work Blackberries and just carry their personal phones around. It’s not like they didn’t already have a work-supplied phone with email access. They just wanted to avoid the hassle of two devices and get rid of the work device. In the end, they made their peace with the confidentiality aspect after realizing that most of these users had NEVER had passwords on their Blackberries (contrary to company policy) and thus their data had been exposed all along. I think in the end it came down to someone’s calculation that even after those users’ Blackberry accounts were cancelled, the firm still qualified for volume pricing on the rest of their Blackberry service.

  • One approach to minimizing the security risks and support challenges of BYOD is to separate the data and applications from the personal devices. This can be achieved by using virtualization and cloud technologies to publish corporate Windows applications or virtual desktops and accessing them from a browser.

    One solution that facilitates this approach is Ericom AccessNow. AccessNow is an HTML5 RDP client that enables any device (including iPads, iPhones and Android devices) with an HTML5-compatible browser to access Windows applications and virtual desktops.

    There’s nothing to install on the end user device. Users simply click on a URL and run their applications and desktops inside a browser tab. This improves security by keeping sensitive applications and data in the data center, while reducing support issues, as IT staff don’t need to worry about device compatibility with corporate applications.

    This white paper – “BYOD is Here to Stay, But Organizations Must Adapt” – discusses additional strategies for addressing some of the challenges of BYOD:

    Please note that I work for Ericom

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