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William Hardie

William Hardie

William Hardie is the Executive Head of Enterprise Mobility at Vox Telecom a leading telecoms operator, providing voice and data services to the Southern African market. The Group competes through its primary brands Vox Orion, Vox Datapro, Vox Amvia, , Vox Telepreneur and Vox Pureview and has offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth as well as in Windhoek, Namibia. Vox Telecom, over the past 13 years, has established itself as one of the major players in the telecoms market and is the largest black-owned telecommunications company in South Africa.

Website URL: http://www.voxtelecom.co.za

It’s time to end the apathy about mobile device security

Friday, 14 September 2012 13:21 Published in Mobile
It’s time to end the apathy about mobile device security

Are false promises from major vendors lulling South Africa’s IT community into apathy about mobile device security? There are increasingly worrying signs that this is exactly what may be happening.

CIOs and IT managers are well aware of the fact that the move towards “bring your own device” environments is radically changing the landscape. Everyone is reading the same articles and everyone says the issue is on their radar – but they’re relying on the mobile device management (MDM) provided by the major players like Microsoft, RIM, Juniper, SAP and all the others.

The problem is, if you’re Microsoft or SAP, mobile device management is not your core competence – and it shows. The MDM offerings currently on the market from the major players are just not in the same league as what’s available from specialists.

Are you prepared to bet the security of your IT environment on a project that’s anything less than the best in its class?

The risks are not small. If I was a hacker with an interest in corporate espionage, I’d be spending a lot of my time right now in airport lounges and restaurants where senior executives hang out. It’s so easy to set up a smartphone as a WiFi hotspot that a lot of people are doing it -- with no thought about security. But just one unsecured hotspot could give the hacker high-level access to the entire corporate network.

To complicate things, it’s the most senior employees who are most likely to be bringing in their own devices, against the wishes of the IT department. These are also the people have access to the most sensitive information -- how many of them have downloaded board packs to their iPads?

Gartner has specifically warned that hackers are now targeting smartphones and tablets – and traditional security solutions are wholly inadequate to the task of securing them. You need a dedicated mobile device management solution.

There’s no point in waiting for “market consolidation” either – the other line we hear frequently. The truth is, the market is already consolidated and the leaders are clear. A quick comparison of last year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant with this year’s will confirm this.

The real tragedy is that until the mobile device environment is secure, you can’t even begin to explore all the new possibilities this change opens up. There are many wonderful applications out there that can truly increase productivity and competitive advantage – but until you know that cool videoconferencing app for smartphones won’t be exposing your entire network, using it is not worth the risk.

Blackberry Enterprise Server no longer the only game in town

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 00:00 Published in Mobile
Blackberry Enterprise Server no longer the only game in town

The decline of RIM and increasing diversity in the smartphone market are driving more South African CEOs to take a hard look at their mobile device management (MDM) strategies.
Blackberry still dominates South Africa, with several surveys estimating they hold around 40% of local market share. But things will look very different in 12 months. RIM has lost its global tech edge, and the BBM service that has driven so much local adoption is finally seeing serious competition from rivals like WhatsApp that aren't tied to a single platform.
The trend of enquires Vox is receiving suggests that local corporates who've built their mobility strategies around Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) are being forced to adapt due to the twin pressures of RIM's decline and the growth in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
There's a very strong global trend away from trying to dictate to users which mobile devices they can bring into the corporate environment. If you want people to be productive and available even when they're out of the office, they're going to want to be able to choose their own devices, and right now iOS and Android are where the action is. That's before we even consider tablets. The mobile device landscape is going to continue becoming more diverse for some time.
Fortunately diversifying doesn't have to mean writing off existing investments. Newer MDM systems like MobileIron can build on existing BES implementations, while establishing a platform that's more appropriate for the coming era of mobile diversity.

Restricting smartphones

Modern offices have been inundated with an array of smart devices such as phones and tablets. As these devices are often used for work purposes without corporate consent, they can easily turn into a security hazard, which is why companies are attempting to crack down on their employees’ mobile activity. William Hardie, Executive Head of Vox Telecom’s Enterprise Mobility Division, shares his views on the biggest mistakes companies make when attempting to manage mobility.

#1 Banning mobile devices altogether

Attempting to prevent your employees from bringing smartphones or tablets to work is not only counterproductive, but frankly, impossible. Organisations need to change their corporate culture to match the mobile zeitgeist of the world around them, not the other way around. Younger employees, in particular, feel so connected to their devices that they see them as being practically an extension of themselves. Imposing a ban on personal devices will not only alienate the staff, but allow competitors that do utilise mobile technology to gain an edge by offering customers access to sales and support staff using the channel.

#2 Applying PC solutions to mobile technology

Forget everything you know about PCs. PCs are accessible 24 hours a day. PCs are manageable, password-protected and wholly under the control of the in-house IT team. Traditional software management suites cannot be applied to mobile devices that are carted around daily and easily misplaced or stolen. A robust, multi-OS, holistic mobile device management platform has to be applied to govern the system successfully.

#3 Introducing BYOD initiatives without securing the devices first

Although a BYOD policy can be extremely beneficial, mobile data security and seamless integration into the corporate needs to be the first step in launching an initiative. We’re seeing global leaders like MobileIron enter the market and seamlessly remove the security and integration headaches, whilst also allowing for the development and deployment of mobile applications that can be used across all operating systems. This not only streamlines operations, but can lead to new sources of revenue or customer service channels for the organisation.

#4 Attempting to do it yourself

Although one would assume that an in-house IT department would be more than qualified to handle a mobile device management strategy, this is rarely the case. Mobile devices operate across a variety of platforms, including IOS, android, Blackberry BES/BIS or Windows mobile. This adds too great a degree of complexity to the workload of often under-resourced and under-qualified IT departments to handle. Companies should consider adopting a tried and tested globally accepted solution or technology, at least as a starting point. Leading research houses, such as Gartner, are becoming independent trusted authorities around tracking trends and providing thought leadership in respect of what solution to opt for.

#5 Ignoring the problem

When market research firm Columinate surveyed South African smartphone users, they found that more than a third of respondents are using their smartphones every waking hour of the day – whether at home, on the go or at work. The reality is that close to 8 million South Africans are bringing smart devices to the office and probably using them for work purposes. If such a device is not secured, it could be disastrous. Mobile data security is a pre-requisite to business continuity. One has to create a trusted device and user in order to protect company data.

#6 Partnering with the wrong MDM solution provider

There are a number of entities that claim to offer superior MDM solutions, but few that live up to their promise. It is best to follow Gartner’s MDM Magic Quadrant Report, which segments MDM suppliers against defined industry criteria that are deemed critical considerations for managing mobile devices.

Smart devices can prove to be powerful sales and organisational tools, but attempting to take control over mobility on your own is futile. Companies should use the technology and skills at their disposal to tame the mobility beast before attempting to introduce any BYOD initiatives.

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