By Rich Campagna, CMO, Bitglass
The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives throughout the business world has been emphatic in recent years and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it help to reduce IT costs and improve agility for businesses, it allows employees to access corporate data from any location, at any time, from devices they are already familiar with. The satisfaction that comes with BYOD initiatives is increasingly being seen as a key factor in employee satisfaction as well, helping improve staff retention.
However, implementing and maintaining a BYOD policy can also be an extremely challenging endeavour, with far-reaching implications for the security of a business and its data if not properly addressed from the outset. Below are three of the main challenges facing any organisation thinking of taking the BYOD path:
The shadow IT challenge
One of the major side effects of BYOD tends to be a significant rise in shadow IT within an organisation. Shadow IT is the term used to describe the use of unsanctioned cloud applications and resources within the business IT environment. Bringing personal devices into any work environment makes it far more likely that employees will eschew official business IT applications in favour of the ones they prefer to use at home. While employees may like this, it can quickly result in a loss of control for employers, leaving sensitive business emails and file attachments residing on unmanaged/unsecure applications and devices. Under new regulations, such as the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this will be completely unacceptable and leave businesses exposed to hefty fines if caught out.
Allaying privacy concerns amongst employees
Another key issue associated with BYOD is employee apprehension around privacy. Many workers using personal devices in a work environment are quite rightly concerned about how much of their personal data employers can see. However, whilst these privacy concerns are absolutely legitimate, employers need to ensure sensitive business data is secure no matter where it resides. As such, striking the right balance between protecting data across all endpoints and maintaining employee privacy is critical.
In light of this, appropriate BYOD policies must be put in place, with due consideration given to which types of devices and people can access which kinds of corporate data. Security can then be tailored accordingly, rather than trying to enforce a one-size-fits-all approach. The policy must also include robust exit policies for outgoing employees that use their personal devices for work, and more. Even with such policies in place, a small minority of employees are still unlikely to comply, particularly if the policies are deemed to be inconvenient or inefficient. In these situations, further education and training are usually required to reinforce the importance of personal responsibility (and the dangers of shadow IT) as part of an effective BYOD initiative.
Picking suitable security solutions
The majority of organisations new to BYOD tend to default to mobile device management (MDM) as a catch-all security solution. On one hand, MDM ensures security requirements are met, updates are installed regularly, unsecured Wi-Fi connections are rejected, and unsanctioned apps are unable to access company data. However, on the other hand, MDM tools require the installation of an agent on every employee’s personal device, which not only impacts device performance, but grants visibility into employees’ personal information. As described above, this invasion of privacy is exactly the kind of reason that employees reject BYOD policy and turn to shadow IT solutions.
Fortunately, there are now a variety of alternative solutions to MDM that are just as secure but don’t compromise employee privacy. These new solutions are data-centric, or agentless, which means they don’t require harmful software installations and they only monitor corporate data on the employee’s device, not personal information. As a result, agentless BYOD solutions are quickly gaining momentum as more organisations realise they can secure their data without compromising the privacy or satisfaction of their employees at the same time.
BYOD is fast becoming an integral part of the business world thanks to the flexibility and agility it delivers to those who embrace it. However, success hinges on the ability to implement a BYOD policy that successfully balances organisational security needs with the privacy rights of employees. While legacy MDM solutions were (and still are) too draconian in nature, the new breed of agentless solutions can deliver that balance, ensuring sensitive data is protected regardless of where it is, without compromising privacy or pushing employees towards the use of shadow IT.
Battling Covid collateral damage, Renault says 2021 will be volatile
By Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) – Renault said on Friday it is still fighting the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a shortage of semiconductor chips, that could make for another rough year for the French carmaker.
Renault reported an 8 billion euro ($9.7 billion) loss for 2020 which, combined with gloomy take on the market, sent its shares down more than 5% in late morning trading.
“We are in the midst of a battle to try to manage a difficult year in terms of supply chains, of components,” Chief Executive Luca de Meo told reporters. “This is all the collateral damage of the Covid pandemic… we will have a fairly volatile year.”
De Meo, who took over last July, is looking at ways to boost profitability and sales at Renault while pushing ahead with cost cuts. There were early signs of improving momentum as margins inched up in the second half of 2020.
The group gave no financial guidance for this year, although it said it might reach a target of achieving 2 billion euros in costs cuts by 2023 ahead of time, possibly by December.
Executives said they were confident the carmaker could be profitable in the second half of 2021, but that they lacked sufficient market visibility to provide a forecast.
Renault struck a cautious note, saying it was focused on its recovery but warned orders had faltered in early 2021 as pandemic restrictions continued in some countries.
The group is facing new challenges as the European Union tightens emissions regulations and after rivals PSA and Fiat Chrysler joined forces to create Stellantis, the world’s fourth-biggest automaker.
The auto industry endured a tough 2020 but a swift rebound in premium car sales in China helped companies such as Volkswagen and Daimler to weather the storm.
Auto companies globally have since been hit by a shortage of semiconductors that has forced production cuts worldwide.
“The beginning of the year has shown some signs of weakness,” De Meo told analysts, but added the chip shortage should be resolved by the second half of 2021. “We have taken the necessary measures to anticipate and overcome challenges.”
Renault estimated the chip shortage could reduce its production by about 100,000 vehicles this year.
The group was already loss-making in 2019, but took a sharp hit in 2020 during lockdowns to fight the pandemic, which also hurt its Japanese partner Nissan.
Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected a 7.4 billion euro loss for 2020. The group posted negative free cash flow for 2020.
The 2018 arrest of Carlos Ghosn, who formerly lead the alliance between Renault and Nissan, plunged the automakers into turmoil.
In a further sign that the companies have been working to repair the alliance, De Meo told journalists that Renault and Nissan will announce new joint products together in the coming weeks or months.
Renault has begun to raise prices on some car models, and group operating profit, which was negative for 2020 as a whole, improved in the last six months of the year, reaching 866 million euros or 3.5% of revenue.
Analysts at Jefferies said the operating performance was better than expected. Sales were still falling in the second half, but less sharply.
Renault is slashing jobs and trimming its range of cars, allowing it to slice spending in areas like research and development as it focuses on redressing its finances. It is also pivoting more towards electric cars as part of its revamp.
It was already struggling more than some rivals with sliding sales before the pandemic, after years of a vast expansion drive it is now trying to rein in, focusing on profitable markets.
De Meo told journalists on Friday that the French carmaker will make three new higher-margin models at its Palencia plant in Spain, where manufacturing costs are lower, between 2022 and 2024.
($1 = 0.8269 euros)
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White in Paris, Nick Carey in London; Editing by Christopher Cushing, David Evans and Jan Harvey)
UK delays review of business rates tax until autumn
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s finance ministry said it would delay publication of its review of business rates – a tax paid by companies based on the value of the property they occupy – until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.
Many companies are demanding reductions in their business rates to help them compete with online retailers.
“Due to the ongoing and wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the government said the review’s final report would be released later in the year when there is more clarity on the long-term state of the economy and the public finances,” the ministry said.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has granted a temporary business rates exemption to companies in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, costing over 10 billion pounds ($14 billion). Sunak is due to announce his next round of support measures for the economy on March 3.
($1 = 0.7152 pounds)
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken)
Discounter Pepco has all of Europe in its sights
By James Davey
LONDON (Reuters) – Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.
The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries. The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.
Chief Executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded “super well” so far.
“That’s given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people,” he told Reuters.
To further illustrate the brand’s potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.
The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.
Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.
Since 2019 Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.
That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.
“The business will be up for sale at the right time. It’s a case of when, rather than if,” said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.
Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.
Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 229 million euros ($277 million) for the year to Sept. 30, against 331 million euros the previous year.
Sales rose 3% to 3.5 billion euros, reflecting new store openings.
($1 = 0.8279 euros)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by David Goodman)
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