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Lack of BYOD policies is creating channel opportunities

Only 30 per cent of Canadian companies have BYOD policies but that's driving new business for the channel, IDC says

What’s bad news for IT security hounds could be good news for the channel when it comes to the latest IDC Canada research on BYOD.

The bad news: over two thirds of Canadian companies still have nopolicy in place to deal with the bring-your-own-device phenomenon. Butthis wild west approach to BYOD is actually creating opportunities inthe channel as Canadian businesses look for new tools to help manageBYOD securely.

“It’s driving the need for these types of solutions, so there’s lots ofnew channel opportunities,” said Krista Napier, senior analyst andtracker team lead for mobility at IDC Canada.

Only 30 per cent of Canadian firmshave a BYOD policy, IDC says. (Photo:Shutterstock

In a workshop held at CDN’s recent Channel Elite Awards, Napier saidBYOD has spurred vendors and channel partners to put a greater focus ontools for multiple platform support, device monitoring, and appprovisioning.

“Those are some of the biggest channel opportunities,” Napier said.

No wonder there’s a big market opportunity there: although 69 per centof Canadian companies permit some form of BYOD (in which employees usetheir own personal mobile devices for work purposes), an equal amountof firms – 70 per cent – have no policy to manage the practice. While26 per cent of those with no policy say they plan to have one in placewithin a year, 44 per cent have no plans to enact one.

Despite the potential security risks that come with BYOD, it’s apparentfrom these numbers that Canadian businesses still aren’t dealing withthe trend appropriately. When it comes to figuring out why, Napiersuggests a huge part of the problem is the novelty of BYOD itself.

“This trend is still pretty new. It requires companies to thinkdifferently and IT managers to have to manage more different movingpieces. Tablets – which have been driving a lot of this – only launchedin the second quarter of 2010.”

Another reason for the lack of BYOD policy adoption is the difficultyof managing multiple platforms and multiple types of devices, Napiersaid.

“We’re going from an environment in many businesses where these werevery much BlackBerry shops. Even in 2011 we were still seeing it as aleading platform and it’s only just very recently we’ve seen BlackBerrystruggling and these other platforms taking off and supercedingBlackBerry in enterprises.”

As companies migrate away from an official employee-wide BlackBerrydeployment to a BYOD environment where more staff are using iOS andAndroid devices for work, the situation adds IT security and managementcomplications to the mix that didn’t exist before, Napier said.

For example, if a worker uses their own personal smartphone for work,does their company have the right to automatically wipe it in the eventof loss or theft even if the employee’s personal data will be also lostin the process? In Napier’s estimation, many companies simply haven’tformulated a BYOD policy because they’re grappling with the complexityof this new multiple device, multiplatform universe.

Although the growing popularity of tablets is responsible for much ofthe BYOD trend, tablets are still being used mainly in addition to –rather than completely instead of – more traditional enterprisedevices.

“Tablets aren’t necessarily, at this point, replacing your desktop oryour netbook,” Napier said. “They’re not necessarily leading to thedeath of laptops.”

So what’s a Canadian company to do when faced with the BYOD bombardmentthese days? The good news is that as more companies move to the cloud,many of these questions and conundrums will simply evaporate over time.

“When (company) data is accessed in the cloud, it’s not sitting on thedevice. As we see more companies adopt cloud, the device will be lessimportant and BYOD will be less of an issue,” Napier said. “You stillhave to have the right solutions in place to deal with that but it justbecomes an easier proposition.”

IDC Canada’s figures are based on its regular tracker data for tabletsand mobile phones, plus its surveys of individual Canadian businesses.

Christine WongChristineWong is a Staff Writer at ITBusiness.ca and CDN. E-mail her at cwong@itbusiness.ca,connect on ,follow her on Twitter,and join in the conversation on the IT BusinessFacebook Page.