Ojas Rege, VP of Strategy, MobileIron

In my last article on managing a multi-OS environment, I highlighted that the future of mobile is rapidly changing for financial services. As the consumerisation of IT continues, we are beginning to see a number of trends originate from the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon, which are creating new challenges for organisations. Take Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) for example.

Ojas Rege
Ojas Rege

According to Gartner, the number of app downloads in 2013 will reach 102 billion, with the total value hitting $26bn – just over £16bn. This compares to 64 billion downloads in 2012. It’s evident that mobile apps have become a consumer commodity and now they are starting to filter into the enterprise. As employees demand to use their own devices at work, they now expect to use their own apps within the workplace, inevitably making mobile apps business-critical. As a result, organisations must move away from being focused on the device to thinking about applications, data and content.
This represents a paradigm shift in IT and poses a number of challenges for the IT department in protecting confidential data, provisioning mobility whilst at the same time maintaining security. In an attempt to fill the gap on what IT currently provides to increase productivity, employees are taking matters into their own hands to get their jobs done, by acquiring apps from public app stores such as Apple’s or Google Play and using them on either corporate or personal devices within the workplace. As a result the IT department is losing centralised management, security, and oversight.

The problem with consumer apps is that the risk of them accessing corporate information for example, a concern for many of our customers is that sensitive data will end up in an employee’s personal Dropbox account. The risk is that companies will take an overly restrictive approach that damages the user experience. When employees have a bad user experience on their device, they look elsewhere for enterprise productivity tools. This can drive them to take risky actions such as using unauthorised file sharing apps.

The time is now
It’s time for financial services to rethink their Mobile Application Management (MAM) to ensure that they are taking secure steps in enabling mobility and are ultimately delivering the ultimate user experience for employees. Mobile applications should be managed and secured in a centralised way which will help to distribute applications by role, help manage the application lifecycle and provide the IT department with the visibility and control it needs.
There is an opportunity here for financial services to optimise and embrace BYOA and to take back control. Many of our customers within the financial sector are already doing this and are becoming mobile first; by embracing mobile as their primary computing platform.

Here are my top tips for how financial organisations can securely manage applications within the enterprise and be seen as an enabler of BYOA by delivering the ultimate experience for employees.

Build a trust model

An organisation should take a practical look and identify what the real risks of data loss are. Based on those risks, Mobile IT can identify what level of enterprise content should be made available. We call this developing a trust model. A trust model establishes which users are trusted with which data or apps under what circumstances. Every major organisation has gone through data classification to establish this underpinning for its security policies. With a clear trust model, financial services can provision and control access to apps used on employee or corporate owned devices. They must also establish which applications are required within the workplace, allowed, or disallowed and then associate these apps with rules that specify the consequences of being out of policy.

Build self-defending apps
By 2017, Gartner expects 25% of enterprises to have developed their own app stores  and we’ve already seen a number of our own financial services customers follow this trend. Sixty per cent of our customers have also started to build their own apps to support various banking functions and mobilise internal functions.

With this “build your own” approach, organisations can create and directly publish private apps to their end-users without putting them in a commercial storefront and ultimately putting corporate data at risk.

While security is paramount, it is equally important to deliver the native app experience end users expect and want. Financial services organisations can address security issues by building “self-defending” apps. Self-defending apps are secured through a centralised platform that can prevent unauthorised data sharing, protect data-at-rest, and provide secure authentication.

Have an effective distribution and discovery mechanism

Mobile apps have transformed the way we use mobile devices in our consumer lives and have triggered a wave of mobile app development in the enterprise. However, it is not that easy to just build an app and get employees to use it. Once an app is built, how do employees find out about it and how do they get it? Do you post it on a consumer app store? Send a list to employees and let them find it? Host it on a server internally? We’ have seen a number of financial services companies doing a combination of all of these, and it’s a mess.

The answer for many CIOs is to leverage OS-agnostic, internal “enterprise app storefronts” that allow developers and IT to publish internal apps or link to external, public app stores. An enterprise app storefront gives IT a way to simplify and control the review, publishing, discovery, and delivery of mobile apps in a user-friendly model that is familiar to end-users from using consumer app stores. IT and internal developers can publish mobile apps or links to external apps to the enterprise app store. IT can review the app, approve it, and set policy boundaries based upon role and mobile platform. An enterprise app store lets IT enable the publishing, discovery, and delivery of mobile apps in a secure and consumer-friendly way.

View BYOA as an opportunity

BYOA should be viewed as an opportunity, not as a threat. BYOA can create positive change once there is a robust MAM strategy in place.

We are in an age of consumerisation and it is relentless. And just like BYOD, BYOA is here to stay. Therefore financial organisations can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand, as the momentum of mobile adoption will just continue to increase.

If restricted, employees will find a way to bring their own devices and applications to work, so IT should want to help and empower users by defining clear and coherent processes which suit both the need of employees and the business.
We must remember that mobility transforms a business and boosts productivity amongst employees, so it’s time to embrace BYOA and become mobile first; by embracing mobile as the primary IT platform and delivering the ultimate user experience for employees.

Related Articles