In the last few years, enterprises have come to realize that a mobile workforce is often a more productive, competitive workforce. With their multiple mobile devices, mobile workers can simply do more. Picture an employee using a smartphone to videoconference with colleagues to collaborate on a document that he's editing on his laptop while he keeps an eye on sales numbers on the desktop and stays up to date on urgent emails using his tablet. The mobile worker doesn't have to be anywhere near his desk or be working during normal business hours to do all that, either. In fact, according to 2013 iPass research, "mobile workers put in 240 hours more a year than non-mobile employees." That kind of productivity boost can't be ignored.
But a mobile workforce creates security concerns that a more traditional enterprise may not be prepared to handle without the guidance of a knowledgeable VAR. Here are three facts and statistics that you need to know to make the most of your mobility efforts.
1. When it comes to BYOD, security is the enterprise's top concern.
Multiple research reports and analyst firms, including Gartner, confirm that security concerns are the biggest hurdles to enterprise mobility and BYOD. Nearly every organization handles at least some sensitive, confidential, or proprietary data, and enterprises in certain large sectors must also comply with strict and sometimes confusing data privacy regulations. Mobility and BYOD increase the number of potential attack surfaces for a cybercriminal to exploit. You'll need to reassure your customers that you're up to the task of helping them secure assets like customer payment card numbers, bank account data, or protected health information (PHI). Get up to speed on technologies like Mobile Device Management (MDM), Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and client-side data encryption.
2. Remote access is a key issue.
A mobile workforce is, above all, mobile. That means a rethinking of corporate network access. To enable employees to remain productive anywhere, anytime, organizations must provide secure remote access to the applications and data they need to do their jobs. But a 2014 Spiceworks community poll found that only 19 percent of small and medium businesses "provide remote network access to more than half of their workforce today." A lack of secure remote access poses a grave threat to enterprise security, given the pervasiveness of shadow IT: enterprise end users' tendency to adopt consumer-facing SaaS applications without IT approval when they're locked out of needed enterprise resources. Solving this issue will in some cases demand improvements to the VPN. In other cases, it may require a migration of certain resources and applications to a private or public cloud.
3. Enterprises aren't investing enough in security.
The above-mentioned technologies will go a long way towards securing the mobile workforce and the data it handles, but to date, not all (or even most) enterprise IT decision-makers have shown themselves willing to greenlight enough budget for such purchases. In fact, in a 2014 Dell global security survey, respondents only allocated an average of 17 percent of their IT budgets to security—this despite the fact that a whopping 74 percent of the companies surveyed had suffered a security breach within the past year! Persuading your customers to invest more in protecting their mobile workforce will require clear communication of the consequences of a breach. Among the most serious consequences are public embarrassment and brand damage, lost revenues, and hefty fines. Mobile workforce security is a critical component of an organization's overall security posture. Make sure your customers understand that. And make sure they understand that you are ready and able to help.
What facts surprise you about mobile workforce security? Tell us in the comments.