Back to BlackBerry: Frustrated Mobile Users Reject BYOD for the Former Market Leader

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Patrick Oliver Graf

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It’s a tough time to be a BlackBerry user. 

Despite having a committed fan in the Oval Office and some new features to brag about, including a digital assistant, BlackBerry has seen Android, Apple and Microsoft phones completely erode its market share. Its popularity has actually receded so far that BlackBerry is now less popular than nameless “other” devices in smartphone market share surveys. As bleak as the news seems, though, a resurgence of BlackBerry is possible, at least in some circles.

Thanks to what some say are restrictive Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) and remote access policies, some mobile devices users in the corporate world are rebelling against BYOD – specifically, they don’t want their personal mobile devices to be controlled by their employer’s IT administrators. They say that mobile device management products and oversight mechanisms quickly deplete their battery life, disrupt their desired workflow, and, worst of all, infringe on their privacy. This is a problem they never had with their corporate BlackBerrys, which, unlike today’s market leaders, were better suited for use in business settings.

CIO Magazine collected this information from an anonymous, frustrated IT executive at a New York City investment firm, who also shared that 60 percent of the company’s employees would rather go back to using the two separate devices, including a BlackBerry solely for business use, instead of using one phone to store both their personal and professional information. He described in detail the “nightmare” environment around the company’s BYOD woes that was caused by the company’s invasive BYOD policies.

Although the issues plaguing this investment firm could translate over to other companies, it’s not clear whether there really is a widespread nostalgia for BlackBerrys to again be the cornerstone device mobile employees use for remote access to corporate networks. What is clear is that there’s certainly a rocky road ahead for BYOD, especially considering formal BYOD policies are still not as universal as one might think.

Bring-Your-Own-Dissatisfaction?

Despite all the hype, enterprises are only starting their journey to embrace BYOD, as about half of large enterprise firms still don’t allow employees to use their personal devices in the workplace, according to CompTIA’s Third Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study.

The benefits of embracing BYOD are clear. According to the study’s findings, with increasing mobility, employees are more connected, productive and engaged with customers.

The study goes on to explore the reasons for corporate skepticism around BYOD, with respondents citing the logistics around device integration as the biggest hurdle, and specifically the added complexity involved in managing employee behavior and a range of different mobile devices.  As CompTIA’s Seth Robinson said, “there are enterprises aspects such as encryption, proper security settings and enterprise apps that require further and ongoing [employee] education.” So, it’s not really an issue of resources for large enterprises, as it is for small and midsize businesses.

What this all means is that enterprise BYOD is still very much in its infancy, and that there’s still time for organizations to secure their network security infrastructure before possibly exposing themselves to all the vulnerabilities that could be created when employees bring their personal mobile devices into the workplace. Specifically, as the CompTIA study mentions, the most common mobility needs for U.S. companies are improved technology and central management of security apparatuses.

A good first step for companies aiming to address these problems is to implement remote access VPNs that include central management capabilities. By using such a solution, an enterprise can provide employees access to the corporate network on any device while guaranteeing that sensitive information remains secure. Network administrators also will be able to ensure that all endpoints connected to the corporate network are policy compliant without needing to adopt what employees may perceive as invasive MDM technologies. And, if they aren’t, or if a security breach does occur, central management functionality allows admins to quickly revoke network access or deprovision problem devices.

Enterprises may still experience some BYOD pushback from employees – and some may even clamor for their BlackBerrys again – but ultimately enterprises will find the business benefits and employee happiness associated with BYOD too compelling to ignore.

This was cross-posted from the VPN-HAUS blog.

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