The mobile communications market has for years been characterised as a commodity space. Selling mobile services was largely a matter of who offers the best price. The rise of the smart phone and the pursuant growth in mobile data is changing this.
Price is still important but these devices are so expensive that the amount of hard cash people (consumers) are willing to spend on their mobile contract has grown considerably. I know this from first hand experience having a 19 year old student son who spends not an insubstantial amount of his monthly budget on an iPhone4 contract.
This in turn is a source of angst for businesses who have not traditionally provided the bulk of their staff with top of the range handsets. Unless you have been in a media vacuum over the last six months you will know that this has led to a phenomenon known as Consumerisation of IT and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution.
I have written about this before. As a provider of mobile services
to business customers BYOD is a real area of interest. BYOD poses a problem to our customers because their employees are using personal handsets to access corporate assets without the traditional levels of scrutiny security and control that came with, for example, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
A lost phone can now be a real source of concern to a business, in particular because of the greater amounts of information these devices are capable of storing. They are no longer phones. They are hand held computers.
The growth of “the cloud” and its increased use by Small and Medium sized Businesses is bringing the problem into the domain of smaller companies. Suddenly information security is important to them.
Aside from anecdotal evidence and the occasional high profile PR stunt aka the lost iPhone5 there is very little data around to highlight the extent of this problem. Reports that do exist are USA based and cover the enterprise market. Big business has always taken more care over mobile device security. This is partly because the Mobile Device Management tools used to address the problem are expensive and partly because their exposure is greater in the event of an issue (ie lost phone).
As a mobile ISP with a significant stake in the SMB market Timico decided to commission a “Mobile Working Report – Consumerisation of IT and Bring Your Own Device Trends”. Using research organisation One Poll we talked to SMB Directors and had some interesting results.
72% of businesses were concerned about employees bringing their own devices to work. 42.5% of businesses questioned lost (or were stolen) up to 20 handsets a year. 30.5% of businesses lost between 20 and 100 devices a year. This did astound me somewhat but I did a sanity check with our customer service teams and found that customers reporting lost phones is almost a daily occurrence.
Only 31% of respondents said they don’t have a policy for BYOD. You have to read between the lines here because the high number of organisations with such a policy almost certainly do not allow staff to use their own phones at work.
81.5% of those concerned about BYOD said they would probably allow it if they had a Mobile Device Management solution that protected company data on the personal phone.
Cost appears to be the least of their worries (21.5%) with security (75%) at the top of the list.
The report covers a number of vertical markets and has some interesting sector based output. “Not for profits” see BYOD as a real opportunity to save cash. Allowing people to use their own phones means not having to provide a company device as long as “proper management” of these phones is addressed.
For me the biggest surprise was that of all the market sectors looked at the finance industry came out as the least likely to have addressed the security issues – 77% of directors in this area either did not protect or did not know if they protected company data if the phone was lost. What’s more 55% of the finance firms questioned lost more than 20 devices a year!
This report has certainly given us food for thought and suggests to me that there is a real market opportunity in providing a solution to the BYOD issue in the SMB space.
The full report is here – it is definitely worth a quick read.