BYOA, or Bring Your Own Apps, is a growing trend in businesses. Like its close cousin, BYOD, BYOA gives employees the flexibility they want, while saving the company money on devices and apps for employees to use. These bring-your-own policies are largely driven by employees, but IT help desk workers see the flip side of these convenient and cost-saving policies: less control over the security of the company’s crucial information. With sensitive corporate data and heavily regulated personal information on customers at stake, what role should IT play in BYOA policies?
LogMeIn, a provider of collaboration and connectivity services, recently conducted a survey highlighting the issues IT faces regarding BYOA policies. The survey generated 1,390 responses from 6 countries and 11 different industries. The report of their results, entitled “Managing Applications in the Age of BYOA: Reclaiming IT’s Strategic Role,” is part of their IT Management Research Series. It details the real issues surrounding BYOA and what IT help desk staff can do about it.
BYOA is Here to Stay
Currently, 70 percent of all companies in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand have BYOA policies, and this number is constantly on the rise. Forty percent of respondents on the survey say that BYOD in their companies is expected to escalate, and half of the apps brought in by the employees are later adopted by the IT department. Currently, 38 percent of these companies do not have a strategy to deal with BYOAs, but 81 percent plan to have a strategy and policies in place within two years.
BYOA is More Pervasive Than IT Realizes
IT estimates that each worker brings in an average of 2.8 apps each. In reality, this figure is seven times higher — employees bring in nearly 21 apps each. Why? Sixty four percent of the time, IT already has a solution in place, but the outside apps tend to be easier to use, more friendly to mobile technologies, and better suited to collaborative efforts. Worse, employees only check with IT before bringing in their own apps about 40 percent of the time. Use of Dropbox is on the rise, as is other synchronization and sharing apps, leaving company proprietary information and consumer data held by the company at risk. Only 38 percent of the IT departments surveyed had any policy in place to manage BYOA.
The Inherent Risks of BYOA
Aside from the obvious security concerns, IT help desk professionals worry about how these apps will affect internal systems. Twenty nine percent of respondents worry about compliance issues, 30 percent are concerned about integration problems with the company’s own applications and other IT resources, and 45 percent are worried about their lack of ability to control and manage these incoming apps. Another 54 percent expressed concerns over data being stored outside the company’s direct control. Will IT departments sit passively while these apps threaten the systems and the company, or will they step up as strategic facilitators of the apps and safeguard the systems and data?
How the IT Help Desk Can Take an Active Role in Managing BYOA Risks
There are several things IT can do to address the risks inherent in BYOA. First, they need to realize the problem: workers are bringing in far more apps than originally thought. Second, they need to realize why employees are bringing in their own apps. Perhaps by developing better internal apps, IT can offer a company-wide solution that doesn’t come with the risks of third-party apps. Next, IT needs to define its own role in implementing and managing BYOA policies. Will they be proactive and initiate rules and procedures for external apps, or simply try to manage the risks as they come along?
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