Infinite Convergence released the results of its 2014 Enterprise Internal Messaging Trends study Sept. 3, which surveyed close to 400 CIOs, CTOs and IT directors and managers on their companies’ policies, preferences and concerns about how employees communicate and exchange sensitive information.

The study reveals that IT managers are becoming increasingly concerned with adopting BYOD policies and the use of consumer-style communications technologies to transmit information. Almost 70 percent of the companies surveyed have serious concerns about employees using third-party chat applications to communicate and send documents internally, bypassing corporate applications and, more importantly, corporate policy.

While BYOD has been looked upon as an antithesis of profitability for solution providers selling hardware, the truth is BYOD brings certain services and security opportunities to VARs savvy enough to use industry data that focuses on the all-too-common problems of BYOD adoption.

Luckily, the research numbers ring true and are providing an avenue for solution providers to fix the recognized problems of most BYOD adoption initiatives. Infinite Convergence's report provides the fodder to build an agile marketing approach to supporting BYOD in the enterprise, while reducing the pain points so many IT departments are encountering.

According to Anurag Lai, CEO at Infinite Convergence, the rise in third-party communications application usage most likely can be attributed to the adoption of BYOD policies, where employees are encouraged to use their own personal laptops, smartphones, tablets and devices. Lai said, “As consumer-level and personal products permeate the enterprise, users are more likely to use the applications they are most comfortable with, and in many cases that may be an application not offered or supported by corporate IT.”

Businesses currently are approaching the issue in several different ways, with some adopting better controls over BYOD and others taking a wait-and-see approach fueled by the fear that productivity may be impacted by preventing users from using their favorite third-party applications.

Nevertheless, some key findings of the survey indicate there is no single preferred policy for dealing with BYOD uptake, creating opportunities for solution providers to address those concerns:

  • Forty-one percent of enterprises ban one or more messaging apps for internal communication (Google Chat, WhatsApp and weChat among the most banned).
  • Eighty-nine percent say email is secure for business communication; 84 percent say enterprise messaging systems are secure, but only 47 percent use an internal enterprise messaging service.
  • Forty-one percent say more than half of their employees use personal devices for internal messaging and to access company information.
  • Sixty-seven percent say they are concerned about employees using personal devices to communicate internally and access company information.
  • Only one-third of companies mandate that internal communications outside of email go through a corporate-controlled messaging system.
  • Of those who do have internal messaging systems, 56 percent say they cannot remotely wipe information from an employee's device.
  • Seventy-seven percent of enterprise IT executives indicate a lightweight, secure internal messaging system would be valuable compared to their current enterprise communications.

As the level of concern increases, so does the ability for solution providers to effect change with BYOD solutions, compliance products, auditing services and so on. What’s more, BYOD is creating added concern for those charged with protecting intellectual property, adhering to compliance requirements and enforcing security policy.

The lesson here is that security policies must become a core component of BYOD policies and organizations need to take a proactive approach to integrating BYOD systems into the corporate ecosystem. No one is better-equipped to handle those challenges than a competent solution provider.

Moving forward, businesses serious about BYOD must incorporate the tools, controls, policies and applications to separate personnel use from business use, isolating each environment and offering full management of the business use of any device, regardless of ownership.

Only then will many of the concerns raised in Infinite Convergence’s report be addressed and IT management can move ahead with decentralized control of BYOD, consumer-level products and the associated external applications.

Armed with the information in the survey, solution providers can prompt action and hopefully find the funding for initiatives that can legitimize BYOD without introducing security compromises that could be disastrous.