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Ascent Index: BYOA

Ascent Index: BYOA

We’ve written frequently about BYOD, the consumerization of IT and their impacts on enterprise technology. As disruptive to the enterprise as BYOD has been, it’s also somewhat become the norm, with reports that as many as 70 percent of employees who own a smartphone or tablet choose to use it to access corporate data, and more than 60 percent of companies either have BYOD plans in place, or will have them by the end of the year.

While BYOD hasn’t entirely become yesterday’s news, there’s another acronym that’s impacting the enterprise in unprecedented ways: BYOA, or Bring Your Own App. Also part of the larger IT consumerization trend, BYOA refers to applications, cloud or mobile, that employees can easily sign up for or download to company-issued or personal mobile devices and PCs that are also used to access corporate networks. “More than just a general nuisance, these apps have the potential to wreak havoc on network infrastructure,” Lisa Hoover of FierceMobileIT wrote earlier this month. Enterprise data and documents can also easily end up unprotected in the cloud through well-intentioned but “rogue” usage of these apps.

In addition to FierceMobile, we’ve seen other publications start to cover the BYOA trend more regularly. Joe McKendrick at ZDNet, for instance, examined the need for enterprise app stores as part of an effort to contain BYOA. Joanie Wexler via Computerworld wrote about how BYOD is morphing into BYOA.

Still, when looking at the social mention data that our Ascent Index tracks, BYOA is small potatoes compared to BYOD.

Given the magnitude and scale of this issue, I’m surprised we don’t hear more about BYOA in relation to BYOD, but I’m confident we will continue to see an increase in BYOA stories as time passes. To me, the impact of BYOA could be greater than BYOD. Mobile malware growth is at an all-time high, and there will be numerous security headaches that arise when an employee downloads an infected app. But beyond malware, the potential for corporate data to be compromised increases greatly with apps like Dropbox and Google Drive being used for both personal and business use. BYOD companies are theoretically protected by a remote hard drive wipe if a device with sensitive data is stolen. How do you protect company assets in the event of a data breach in the cloud/app environment?

It’s a question that more and more organizations are starting to consider, and it’s why we’ve invested in companies like PerspecSys and CloudLock, each of which allows organizations to use cloud and mobile apps without compromising security or data protection.

IT consumerization issues are not going away, and the companies that implement BYOD must also consider the ramifications of BYOA and establish acceptable use standards for consumer technologies. Even if we’re not reading and hearing as much about BYOA today, the potential pitfalls are almost certain to be there tomorrow.

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