About this weblog

What you need to know: This weblog captures key data points about the global telecoms industry. I use it as an electronic notebook to support my work for Pringle Media.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bring Your Own Downloads….

….but only if they have had a stamp of approval 

This post is sponsored the Enterprise Mobile Hub and BlackBerry.

When it comes to apps, how do you tell the wheat from the chaff? If you are an enterprise CIO and your employees are bringing their own devices (BYOD) to work, that is the kind of question that could keep you up at night.

A rogue or poorly-designed app could steal or delete important data, paralyse an employee’s device or compromise privacy and security. Moreover, some apps, particularly those offering cloud-based storage, could fall foul of data protection laws: EU data protection legislation, for example, prohibits the transfer of data to countries whose laws are more relaxed than those in the EU.

So, what’s the solution? At a recent event in London, a senior IT strategist at a major pharmaceutical company noted that a lot of people in his organisation are using cloud-services apps with zero involvement from the IT department. He called on telcos to begin certifying such apps, providing some kind of assurance of quality and security.

The worry for CIOs with a BYOD policy is that many of the hundreds of thousands of apps available are sold through lightly-curated distribution channels. And people are downloading these apps on a scale unimaginable in the PC market. There will be more than 45 billion app downloads in 2012, of which more than 40 billion will be free, according to Gartner (see table).

It would be completely impractical for an IT department to test all the possible apps that could end up on employees’ handsets. And reading the reviews on application stores won’t bring peace of mind – they tend to be patchy and sometimes confusing.

Instead enterprises need an independent third-party to test and certify apps on their behalf - CIOs could then insist that employees only download apps that have had an official stamp of approval. But the certifier may have to be prepared to test thousands of apps – employees aren’t going to suffer a scheme that severely limits the apps they can use on personal devices.

Clearly, the programme would need a sustainable business model – enterprises could subscribe to the service, developers could pay a fee to carry the certification logo on their apps or the programme could be bundled into a broader mobile enterprise management software offering.

Should telcos take on the job?
Whoever performs this task will need to have economies of scale and, therefore, scores of existing enterprise customers.  Although systems integrators or IT services companies, such as IBM, Infosys or Accenture, could do the job, telcos have a broader interest in providing such a service – they need to understand which apps hog network capacity and which are relatively frugal. If they could minimise the use of apps that soak up network resources, telcos would be better placed to provide enterprise customers with an assured quality of service, particularly for mission-critical cloud-based services.

Of course, certification schemes are open to abuse – logos and web sites can be copied and faked. Moreover, there may be conflicts of interest - a telco or systems integrator will surely end up having to evaluate apps provided by business partners and even customers.

But without a stamp of approval, the bring-your-own-downloads phenomenon could be accompanied by serial security scares and many more sleepless nights for CIOs.

This post is sponsored the Enterprise Mobile Hub and BlackBerry.

No comments: