BlackBerry remedy for BYOD malady

Bring-your-own-device strategies may have benefited a lot of enterprise companies but as the Canadian Diabetes Association recently found out, it’s not an ideal solution for every organization.

Although the CDA is more of a medium-sized organization, its experience and the lessons it learned can be applied to large enterprises as well.

When the CDA rolled out its BYOD program in 2012, the project was welcomed by many of its 350 staff members, a number whom lost no time in purchasing their own smart phones and tablet devices.

What soon followed was a security and device management bedlam for the non-profit organization’s five-person IT staff, according to Nigel Carpenter, chief information officer of CDA who arrived at the organization just as the BYOD program was in full swing. Shortly after CDA recognized the negative impact of BYOD, Carpenter and his team marshaled a transition to a centralized mobile communication system based on the BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) Enterprise Server.

The CDA’s decision to scrap BYOD is certainly not an isolated phenomena, according to Krista Napier, senior analyst for the mobility space at analyst firm IDC Canada.
“When it comes to BYOD, it is not always the right fit for everyone in a company,” she said. “There are some companies I’ve talked to who are avoiding BYOD altogether.”
She said some of the reasons organziation shy away from BYOD include: concerns about opening access to corporate information information sensitive data to personal devices; risks of malware infected devices connecting to the corporate network; data privacy issues; and device management complexity issues
A recent survey conducted by IDC showed that BYOD policies were in place in 33 per cent of the companies surveyed. Twenty eight per cent of companies planned to put in place a BYOD policy within the next 12 months and 36 per cent of firms had no BYOD policy.
The cocerns mentioned by Napier mirrored those experienced by the CDA.
“We found out that the program was impacting the organization negatively in three key areas: cost; security; and device management,” he said. “After trying it for some time it became clear that CDA and BYOD were not a good fit.”

The CDA’s BYOD program came under two types:

1) A program that offered approximately up to $70/month subsidy per device for employees that needed mobile devices to carry out their work. The subsidy covered device as well as wireless and long distance plan cost2) A non-subsidized program that allowed employees to purchase their own smart phone or tablet. The IT department allowed access to the CDA network and resources to these devices

There were over 100 users who were signed up for the subsidized program.

“Because people were free to approach any carrier, we ended up with a subsidizing a large number of devices of under different contracts,” said Carpenter. “CDA was not able to take advantage of discount rates on services such as data, voice or long distance that bulk subscribers might have had.”

The assortment of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android and BlackBerry OS-powered devices also resulted in a management and security issue for the IT department. IT staff ended up handling security issues for smart phones and tablets coming from multiple device manufacturers.

The more taxing concern however was managing the organization’s security certificates. As health care organization, the CDA is required every 90 days to regularly refresh credential and user certificates for user’s whose device are hooked up to the network to ensure privacy and data protection.

The BYOD program did not have a feature that would allow automated rollout of certificates. There was also no way for the It staff to monitor which device was approaching its scheduled certificate refresh.

Typically it was up to the device owner to manage their own credential updates.

“Unfortunately some of the BYOD workers were not sure how to do this were simply not diligent about it,” said Carpenter. “The result was periodically, a number of devices would be locked out of the system and IT had to work on each device from 15 to 20 minute to get it up and running.”

After going through analyzing various options, the CDA decided last summer to replace scrap its BYOD program and centralize its mobile communications using BlackBerry Enterprise Service and BlackBerry devices.

The initial deployment involved 130 BlackBerry Bold 9900 smart phones and 20 PlayBook tablet devices. Today CDA has upgraded to the new BES 10 and Q10 QWERTY keyboard smart phones and still have the PlayBooks around.

The CDA assumed the liabilities of their users for cancelling existing smart phone plans but the organization figures it can cut its mobile expenses by as much as $250,000 over the next three years. The savings includes improved rates on data cost, long distance charges and hardware upgrades.

Carpenter and his staff are also very happy about the enhanced security features.
Staff members are able to separate corporate and personal apps and data on the BlackBerry devices using the Balance mobile device management feature.
The BES 10 system also enables administrators to roll out software upgrades and applications and update certificates automatically.
CDA staff, nurses and doctors use BlackBerry smart phones and tablets to communicate and coordinate their daily activities but the organization is also planning to add a customer relations management component to its mobile device communication network.The CDA intends to roll out mobile device access to its CRM system to help users reach out and manage donor and volunteer activities.

While BYOD was a bust for the CDA, Napier said the number of Canadian companies with BYOD policies is increasing indicating that BYOD continues to grow in the country.
“There are still a lot of companies that refuse to admit it  (BYOD) is happening, or just to go with all corporately issued devices,” she said. “I think what is important as a company is to address BYOD by stating what the company policy is (whether you support it or not) so that employees are clear about your stance.”



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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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