Over the past year, many CIOs have seen their IT environment change dramatically — from a controlled environment to one where employees are bringing in all sorts of different personal devices into the workplace.
And employees, whether they’re allowed to or not, have started using all sorts of consumer-based apps on their personal devices to get the job done — since those tools are often more effective than the ones their company provides. They use Dropbox to send files to customers, they open up pdfs with GoodReader, they back up their data to iCloud — to name just a few examples.
Consumerization of IT is here to stay, but it doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. It represents an opportunity for employees to be more productive, more efficient and potentially even happier. There’s no stopping the tide of Bring Your Own Device — the best a CIO can do is minimize the potential risks.
ATB Financial, a Crown corporation with 5,000 employees serving 670,000 customers in Alberta, is doing just that.
Chris Timmons, senior manager of information security with ATB Financial, has been working on a BYOD strategy for the past two years, recognizing that the “trend” is here to stay. ATB is already allowing BYOD to some extent, but it will be rolled out completely after this year’s spring budget.
“Companies spent far too long with their heads in the sand,” said Timmons, who presented at McAfee Focus last fall and later spoke to CIO Canada. “If users really want to do something, they will find a way. You need to be reactive — users will do it, whether you want them to or not.”
ATB’s environment includes 2,600 laptops, 1,800 BlackBerry smartphones, 120-plus cell phones, 100-plus iPhones, 100-plus iPads and about 100 home office workers, as well as about 400 terminal server users.
“We anticipate the corporate-issued BlackBerry to iPhone ratio to equalize within a year,” said Timmons. “New users can choose either device, and existing BlackBerry users can choose either device during the upgrade cycle.”
Timmons also expects iPad usage to increase exponentially as new business cases are approved. They’re just getting into Android devices; because carriers can customize the platform and there are so many different app stores, there’s a requirement for anti-virus on those devices.
So far, there haven’t been any requests for Windows Phone; however, Windows 8 phones and tablets could change this, and the OS will allow IT to support those devices right out of the box, just like a corporate laptop.
“It’s not just going to be iPhone — the solution needs to be viable for anything,” said Timmons. “We’re playing with Samsung tablets — it’s not really an iPad, not really a laptop, it’s a full-blown OS that doesn’t conform to anything. We can’t use existing MDM solutions for that, so we have to look at what other enterprise controls we can have.”