Most enterprises still allow their employees to use insecure messaging apps to exchange private data. And even when they mandate more secure alternatives, workers often bypass them. Why is this? Raul Castanon-Martinez, Senior Analyst – Workforce Collaboration, 451 Research, shares his insights in this exclusive Future of Messaging series video supported by Infinite Convergence.

In 2017, 451 Research launched a paper that revealed the extent to which consumer software and devices had infiltrated the workplace.

It reported that nearly three in four employees were using consumer messaging apps for business purposes. That obviously presented a security risk for enterprises. Yet 451 Research found that 62 percent of companies had not made any BYOD policy changes in the previous six months.

The study also revealed:

  If employees need to get work done, they will do that.

And if they are not using sanctioned tools, IT people should be asking: are the tools we offer adequate for they type of work they are doing?”

  • 70 percent of employees use smartphones for business purposes
  • 58 percent of employees say their companies allow the use of personal mobile phones
  • Messaging the #1 activity for employees using a smartphone for business purposes
  • Only 9 percent of employees’ companies don’t allow the use of messaging services that have not been approved
  • 40 percent of employees perform work-related activities on a smartphone daily

Two years on, the problem of uncontrolled BYOD policies still persists. However, according to Raul Castanon-Martinez, Senior Analyst – Workforce Collaboration, 451 Research, it’s now become a little more nuanced. In short, even when companies do mandate their own communications channel, they cannot be sure employees will use them.

“There’s an interesting dissonance between the employees and the IT folks,” he says. “IT people think that most employees use the tools they provide. But when you ask the employees, they respond that they still use consumer apps on their own devices on a daily basis.”

Castanon-Martinez believes this is not a question of defiance. It’s merely that the employees find the consumer apps easier to use.

“If employees need to get work done, they will do that,” he says. “And if they are not using sanctioned tools, IT people should be asking: are the tools we offer adequate for they type of work they are doing? It’s rarely the case. But these answers could provide good insights in terms of what they should be providing.”

Castanon-Martinez has observed that, despite the security implications of a BYOD policy, most firms have still failed to take action. However, he believes regulation could provide a final nudge.

“When people use their own tools, there’s certainly a risk that sensitive information will get out,” he says. “There is data that should not be sitting on consumer devices, that could be hacked or lost. And there could be self sabotage with employees leaking it intentionally.

“But these questions are not always compelling enough to drive change. I think that now that (data policy) is becoming more regulated, businesses will pay more attention because of the risk of fines if they are non-compliant.”

To hear more from Raul Castanon-Martinez on the topic of secure mobile messaging, take a look at the exclusive video interview with MEF.

This Executive Insights Video Series, in association with Netsfere looks at the future of messaging and business communications.

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