When Watson Hooked Up with Siri, BYOD Earned Its Corporate Respectability

Posted on August 20, 2014

Most of the coverage of the deal between Apple and IBM to bring mobility into the enterprise as part of an overall enterprise solution instead of often unplanned BYOD growth has focused on the idea that the deal marks the official end of the PC era. In the short time since it was announced, hundreds of thousands of words have been devoted to the implications for enterprise IT. So what's left to say?

How about the fact that with more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions written as native apps, and a new kind of enterprise-level support options that will very quickly simplify the adoption of iOS devices in the enterprise. As Paul Mah of Fierce CIO wrote, the new support format is one of the biggest benefits for enterprise IT. "Certainly, it would be more palatable getting on-site support from IBM as opposed to having highly-paid IT staffers standing in the queue to get problems fixed."

Mah also noted that while iOS security is generally regarded to be at the forefront of mobile security, the continued availability of jailbreaks and recent reports about hidden iOS services continue to poke holes into blanket arguments that the platform is completely secure. Forbes columnist Andrew Konrad quoted MobileIron CEO Bob Tinker saying that the IBM-Apple deal is not just the end of the desktop, it's a ringing endorsement of the role that enterprise mobility management and security apps play in the enterprise.

"I think of it as a positive that IBM's committed to building mobile apps for enterprises, switching away from Windows to mobile platforms," Tinker says. "I think of it as a positive that IBM's committed to building mobile apps for enterprises, switching away from Windows to mobile platforms. This signals the end of the desktop era. IBM once made a deal with Microsoft in the late 1980s that ushered in the era of the desktop, and now they're ending it with Apple.

The BYOD Security Disconnect

Computerworld staffer Jaikumar Vijayan recently took a look at two surveys that show that corporate employees and IT managers are taking what he calls a surprisingly lax approach to the security issues inherent in the business use of personally owned smartphones and other mobile devices. Two surveys commissioned by Webroot and conducted by Harris Interactive found a significant disconnect between IT and BYOD users. For example, the survey of enterprise IT managers reported that:

The companion survey of employees who use their personally owned devices, however, reported that:

Prat Agarwal, director of business development at secure mobile printing leader Breezy, says that the surveys show why companies and employees need to communicate more about the importance of BYOD security and the legal and regulatory compliance issues that surround data security.

"Mobile devices are a very personal extension of our daily lives," Agarwal says. "Users want apps that provide some form of utility for them. I read somewhere that if aliens came to earth to study humans, they'd conclude that our mobile devices are a part of our bodies.

"So for a company to get access to these devices, workers have to feel confident that their personal information is safe from remote erasure and prying eyes, and they want assurances that the apps installed on the device they pay for is giving them access to something they wouldn't otherwise be able to use," Agarwal explains.

Printing to corporate printers from personally owned devices is one of those utilitarian services that users want, and can't access without help from IT. "Even if they have good document editing apps on the device, native printing ability is one area where mobile devices are still lacking. They were designed as consumer devices, and the manufacturers don't include the kind of print capabilities that users want and expect in a work environment."

Four Crucial App Types for EMM Success

The Breezy executive says that there are four types of apps that are crucial in order for users to accept the type of access to personally owned devices that EMM solutions require in order to protect company data. "Giving users access to these tools on their mobile devices, and explaining to them how the company's EMM software and policies will protect both the company and the device owner, is the key to EMM success," Agarwal says.

The four crucial app types for EMM success are:

  1. Secure email: Email is the primary medium of communication in most corporations, so it's a core part of mobile productivity. Most EMMs have a secure email app. For example, Good has GFE, MobileIron has Sentry, AirWatch has Mobile Email Management, and so on. There's a very popular email client called Touchdown that can sandbox email to provide secure access and it integrates with many of the EMMs. All of these solutions have selected Breezy for secure mobile printing.
  2. Document sharing: If employees can't easily share files from their mobile devices with coworkers through a secure Cloud-based file sharing service like Box, which encrypts files, experience has shown that they'll use a consumer-oriented and insecure alternative. Users can access Box from within Breezy to print documents. For more information, watch this video.
  3. Document editing: Breezy offers seamless integration between Breezy and Office2, a leading document editing suite. This demo shows how.
  4. Document printing: Breezy, integrated with all the major EMMs, including AirWatch, AppSense Mobile Now, Aruba, Citrix, Good, MobileIron, Mocana and of course IBM's MaaS360 by Fiberlink. This allows easy access to high-quality pixel-perfect printing from the corporate print network, along with the audit and management controls IT needs. "Our users often tell us that mobile printing helps make the migration to using mobile devices for work easier," Agarwal adds. For more information on how secure mobile printing adds to worker productivity and corporate data security, watch this video.

For business users who use PDFs regularly in their communication, iAnnotate is a great solution that's integrated with a large majority of the top EMMs. This also gives users the ability to easily open the document on Breezy to print it for further annotating or for submission, right from their mobile devices, leaving their customers impressed. 

"The bottom line is that the deal between Apple and IBM has put an end to any debate about using mobile technology as part of a corporate IT strategy. All that's left is to wrap personally owned mobile devices in the security layers needed to protect employees and company data, Agarwal says.

Apple brings its expertise in product design and consumer-friendly interfaces, as well as an install base of millions who refuse to leave their technology at home. IBM makes the back-end work and delivers secure, customized solutions for enterprise clients. In a lot of ways, it is a match made in heaven.

For more information on how to protect data from a costly mobile device breach watch this video from Breezy, or download The Definitive Guide to Mobile Printing, a free ebook from Breezy.

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