Top Concerns When Creating a BYOD Policy

nec-byod-policyThe Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has faced an uphill battle for adoption due to the issue of effective policy implementation.  BYOD offers employees the luxury of working with devices they are most familiar with and can foster a more productive and collaborative environment, but these benefits must be balanced against the inherent dangers of uncontrolled devices having access to your data and network. When implementing a BYOD policy, special care needs to be taken to ensure existing company goals are not compromised. An effective, comprehensive BYOD policy will promote collaborative solutions for executives, IT staff and workforce users, but must take into account the following policy concerns:

1. Security

According to Gartner, the number one concern for potential BYOD policy implementation is security. The transition from company-issued devices to personal devices requires strict guidelines defined in your security policies. Protecting communications, monitoring data usage, and addressing privacy matters are imperative measures to take. Updating and executing data encryption methods, using SSL or HTTPS for example, will ensure secure data transmission. Archiving and recording methods should also be implemented in complying with company regulations, as well as increasing overall security.  BYOD systems can attain the same level of security (or even greater) as before implementation if optimal software services are put in place.

2. Support and System Administration

With multiple personal devices operating on company premises, support and system administration policies must be established. By instigating single-point administration, changes can be replicated smoothly across users within the enterprise. To reap the full benefits of your Unified Communications platform, it is essential to enhance support for administration as well as end users. So how can you do this? First, select a platform that allows easily accessible support, either by in-house IT staff or from your chosen support provider. It is also beneficial to define clear user roles to identify specific support and administration options that are available according to the user’s responsibilities and position.

3. Device Choice

When determining your device policies, of course you’ll have to determine which devices are allowed, which ones aren’t, and why. It is also helpful to get feedback from employees during this process. You can analyze employee preference by survey, asking such questions as “what devices do you already own?”, “are they compatible with baseline security/support features?” It is helpful to be familiar with the operating system, hardware and other specifications of the various devices and device types. In the future you may want to leverage this knowledge to lay the foundation for assessment of additional devices and technologies. Feedback from employees will also help keep your IT team up to date with changing devices as the consumer market changes.

4. Monitoring Usage

Whether your business adopts a formal BYOD plan, such as implementing a BYOD policy solely for senior-level executives, or creates a more informal plan which permits all employees to use personal devices, it is imperative to establish usage guidelines. One way you can do this is to develop a list of guidelines that establish binding agreements for employees to adhere to so that you protect and ensure the safety of sensitive corporate data. This way, if employees want to use their own devices, they will agree that the device, including their personal data, could be remotely wiped if it’s lost or stolen. It should also be clear that it is their responsibility to back up any personal information they don’t want lost in that eventuality. Appropriate termination polices should also be in place, acknowledging that all company information will be permanently deleted upon leaving the organization. It may also be beneficial to establish a mobility committee to create and monitor the success of policy goals.

How Unified Communications Can Help

Unified Communications (UC) can’t take the place of effective and well thought out BYOD guidelines, but it can help keep your company contacts and other data safe and secure when an employee’s device is lost or stolen. With the right UC app, your IT administrator can rest assured that traffic is secure and data loss is prevented with encrypted data en route to any endpoint. What’s more, Unified Communications will allow your company to provide a win-win for employee choice and corporate security. With the plethora of devices available – from iPhone to Blackberry to Android and more – you don’t want to try to support each individually when you can easily provide users all their desktop communications capabilities through a single approved UC app – on the device of their choice. This gives employees freedom of choice on their device and you the peace of mind and safety of managing a user and their network credentials the same way you’d manage their corporate issue desktop. One of the most sought-after features of the app is the added benefit of hiding a user’s mobile number when they make calls and displaying only their corporate phone number on caller ID devices – a single number identifies employees both internally and to your clients. Truly remote working.
With Unified Communications they’ll also benefit from added flexibility and mobility with the following:

  • Corporate presence and IM
  • Click to dial from mobile applications
  • Availability of the UC app from the same app store they use on their personal device
  • Access to corporate directory and resources on the go

While Unified Communications won’t solve all your concerns, it can help alleviate some of the primary security challenges related to BYOD. For more information on how NEC provides the same UC experience across multiple devices click here.

4 Ways to Simplify UC Project Management

nec-unified-communication-project-managementAs an IT manager one of your major responsibilities is implementing and overseeing voice and unified communications (UC) project management. To help take some of the load off, we put together the following list of tips, best practices and a few helpful hints may be useful. Take a look:

Plan, Plan, Plan – Be sure to assess all needs, risks and benefits of your project before developing a plan. When it comes to IT project management, some companies have defined processes in place, while others rely on the skills of an integrator or service provider to implement a process for successful UC deployment. Regardless of your internal project management skills, it’s important to understand what your provider can offer and what role they will take on in the implementation process. The right provider can save you money and time as well as help to improve your system effectiveness. A skilled integrator can become a valued partner of your organization and help increase workforce efficiency. Also be sure to leverage the expertise of a dealer with prior experience in structuring, deploying and managing collaboration applications.

Know your Provider – Some good qualities to look for in a provider are domain expertise, sophisticated knowledge, and insight in collaboration space – these will lead to enhanced creativity and resourcefulness, as well as innovation and efficiency with your UC project implementation. There is a wide variety of applications available that can provide the best solutions for document sharing, instant messaging, audio conferencing, video streaming, and presence, so look for a provider with direct experience with these applications so you can capitalize on the effectiveness of your solution. The UC project management strategy that will likely provide the most benefit is one that offers a generous amount of flexibility and can easily and successfully adapt with the changing needs of your organization.

BYOD Capabilities – Know your mobile future. Make an effort to tailor your UC project management approach to accommodate the ongoing BYOD trend. Your strategy should be capable of taking on the unavoidable technical challenges created by the emergence of internet-enabled personal devices, including mobile smart phones and tablets. Research from Comscorestates that in 2011, there were upwards of 400 varieties of smartphones alone available in the United States. Focus on securing your corporate data rather than trying to become an expert on every type of device that’s available.

Redundancy – The type of strategy you have in place in the event of emergency, or, worse, disaster can determine the safety of your data. Redundancy plays a key role in this strategy – you surely want to know how long service will be unavailable in the case of an unforeseen eventUnified Communications can be a great way to strengthen your disaster recovery plans, so whether initiated by you or your provider, be sure your project management approach includes an adequate back-up and disaster recovery strategy. An effective plan will ensure continuity of operations and have the ability to protect mission-critical data from being destroyed. It is helpful to consider a plan with the capability of using the replicating method to back up data and move it to a separate location through a secure and bandwidth-efficient transfer. Don’t forget the unified communications requirements for remote sites and teleworkers. Since you won’t be able to predict their user’s requirements or their role in redundancy, keep these at the forefront of your mind when devising your project implementation plan.

We hope these tips provide an understanding of what it takes to successfully implement a UC project management strategy. We can’t say enough how important preparation is when it comes to your communications strategy, so as you move forward, get a clear idea of what your goals are and then determine how to best approach your Unified Communications application. Remember: your strategy is customized for you – what works well for one business may not be the best method for all.

Empower Your New Workforce With BYOD and Unified Communications

byod-infographic-design-1Smart phones, tablets, laptops, regardless of the device, the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD phenomenon, is on the rise in organizations everywhere – even yours. Check out this infographic and you’ll see that 60% of companies already have a BYOD policy in place. Official or unofficial, BYOD is likely already taking place within your organization, so how are you navigating the changes it brings? When it comes to IT needs, it is necessary to have the means to create a network of productive and responsive people who can respond at moment’s notice. Communication is certainly key in achieving this, and technology has evolved to make way for BYOD as a cost-efficient method to do so.

Many companies started finding it beneficial to allow employees to bring their own communication devices on premises to use for work purposes. With the right policy, BYOD empowers employees to get their job done the best way they see fit. It also aids in collaboration and can increase both revenue and productivity while efficiently bridging the end user generation gap.

Tying it all together: Unified Communication, Collaboration

Advances in technology have led to the ongoing innovation of powerful, consumer-level devices carried in the pockets of millions of people. Did you ever imagine that all the power of a workstation desktop would be available on a majority of today’s smart phones? This concept grabbed the attention of enterprise software developers early on and they have continued to capitalize on creating scalable communications and productivity software that spans multiple devices.

Most of your workforce is likely already walking around with their own computing device. From smartphones to laptops to tablets, many companies have found that in allowing the workforce to use devices with which they are already familiar, you can improve productivity and lower overall operating costs, resulting in additions to your top-line. In this A.T. Kearney report, 40 percent of respondents admit they use at least one personal IT device for business purposes. This same study cites that employees who can perform their duties using tools tailored to their needs, rather than tools designed to meet company-wide standards, have a more positive attitude, are more motivated and more efficient. In order for a BYOD strategy to be beneficial, communications must be paired with technology that is aligned with the needs of your workforce.

If you’re looking for ways to empower your end users to increase their productivity, check out the CIO.com webcast that we sponsored on the topic of BYOD and the new workforce. You’ll learn more about implementing strategies to build a secure, scalable, and cost efficient business that addresses the demand for BYOD and access to unified communications.

check-out-the-webcast-to-learn-more

Infographic source

Mobility & UC – Get Everything You Want on the Device of Your Choice

nec-mobility-uc-tabletUnified Communications (UC) has enjoyed a steady, if not slow, broad acceptance as technology users begin to accept the efficiency and effectiveness of new market-driven apps. With employee mobility becoming a priority, an office for some does not include the traditional four walls, and as a result, smartphones and tablets have caused a rush for the door.

InformationWeek’s State of Unified Communications 2012 report by Michael Finneran surveyed more than 300 IT professionals, 67 percent of whom said they currently have deployed or are planning to deploy Unified Communications.

Collaboration and efficiency were cited as the driving forces for the IT professionals’ decision to supply UC systems. To further support the growing partnership between UC and mobility,InformationWeek cites a survey in which 87 percent of 300 respondents claim to expect smartphone use to grow in the field of sales. In this same survey, only 8 percent reported plans to purchase desktops.

These reports come as no surprise, however, when all the benefits, offerings and advantages of both a laptop and desktop can now be found on your choice of a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile handheld device, and easily at that. The mobilization of communication has unleashed a genuine freedom in business communications, where users demand the same capabilities on smartphones and other handhelds as they utilize on desktops and laptops. With the increase in workforce mobility, these users’ demands are being met.

Reaching Into the Fold: Mobile Unified Communications

Mobile UC initially evolved from the concept of fixed/mobile convergence (FMC). FMC integrated mobile network services, and resulted in the voice market evolution into UC systems where voice is only one of several communication modes to be integrated. This methodology ultimately replaced FMC.

Despite all of the benefits, adoption of UC is still slow, and according to Information Week, it is due to a lack of user engagement– to limited IT infrastructure– to lack of enough funds to implement the adoption. The wait for the evolution of security and management is over, and with this evolution comes to the necessary improvements for these systems to flow into a natural, trusted cultural adoption. For unification within this media to truly occur, this evolution was absolutely necessary.
Now that budgets are finally easing and seeing some room to “bend,” it’s time to consider devoting time and energy to mixing mobile devices in the UC fold. If productivity is your goal, and expanded profit margins are your intended accomplishment, the only way to deliver the full benefit of your endeavor is to liberate your immediate users with mobile unified communication. The tables have turned; earlier efforts to mobilize UC failed to gain popularity, now mobilization is almost essential. Are you ready to make your move?

Solving the BYOD Dilemma in Education – Part 2

Part 2-Defining Devices

nec-education-devicesNow that we’ve identified users, let’s take a look at available devices and best application practices. It is critical to keep in mind the differences in the way each of these devices are used.

Laptops: Laptops can be relatively easy to incorporate, as they offer standardized network and Internet access. But are the benefits greater than the risks? Laptops are easy to turn off, and easy to detect on your network. In an educational setting, teachers can clearly monitor laptop usage and if you are designing access to your student portal, creating a website accessible by all operating systems and most browsers is a relatively simple task. On the risk side, however, laptops can be easy vectors for malware and viruses. If left unchecked, these viruses can spread throughout your school infrastructure and affect anyone who is connected.

Smart phones: While voice usage of phones is decreasing sharply among youth, data and text usage is rising – and fast. Take a look here to see how dramatically data services usage is increasing among teens and young adults. Have your schools faced this issue yet? If not, it is likely they will soon, how will you prepare for this?

Smart phones can be difficult to manage on campus due to the fact that there are so many different capabilities and operating systems associated with them. Designing an app for the Apple OS and Blackberry may make most of your staff happy, but what about the percentage who favor Android? Websites, even those designed for mobile devices, have also caused more issues than they resolve for even the most common devices.

Tablets: Similar to laptops, these multi-tasking devices allow for document management, communication and collaboration. Tablets can run a wide range of applications and software, whether it is for educational purposes, general productivity or for entertainment and personal use. Although similar to laptops, tablets tend to be more secure from a virus and malware standpoint, and less useful for writing and collaboration without accessories such as a keyboard. Tablets are associated with a more narrow set of operating systems (e.g., Apple OS or Android), but with Microsoft’s foray into the arena in 2012, and various other vendors such as HP and RIM continuing to fine-tune their own offerings, this may not be the case for much longer.

So where will you go from here? You can see that there’s a lot to consider before moving ahead, and as is the case with most major projects, the more preparation and greater understanding of adapting to your user needs, the better your chances at successful implementation.