In fact, the number of consultancies -- from the big names to "who are these people?" firms -- and tech vendors that have recently discovered BYOD is huge. Given that this phenomenon has had a good 18 months of CIO and media attention, I'd stay far away from any vendor that has just tuned in to the opportunity. They may claim they were monitoring the market until IT was ready for proactive BYOD, but I bet most are carpetbaggers who have no real experience or insight, and will simply sell you the same tired security and management products and services they always have. (I'm talking to you, Symantec and McAfee.) Those who truly did bide their time had better have something superior than those who've been in the market for a while.
Here are ways to avoid wasting your time and money on those selling you faux BYOD:
- Make sure they practice what they preach. Are they using iPhones, iPads, and Androids broadly? Are they using them in the same ways you want to? Or do they have a few pilot deployments or implement BYOD in effectiveness-killing ways such as disabling copy and paste from email or restricting users from installing their own apps? (Yes, in some cases, these are good things to do, such as if you're managing spies, but they should never be the norm.)
- Make sure they are adding value. For example, dozens of MDM companies offer a management tool for the basic Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies built into Microsoft Exchange. You already have that management capability baked into Exchange (on-premise or hosted, including in Office 365), and can get it in the corporate and government versions of Gmail. IBM and Novell offer EAS capabilities for their email servers. Don't buy it again.
- Make sure they are enabling users, not promoting "no." Consultancies and tech providers should be able to show how they can make your users more productive while keeping your risk levels acceptable. Unfortunately, many play on your fears, saying mobile devices are less secure because employees are likely to lose them. That's false -- analysts tell me that employees are less likely to lose mobile devices they own, as well as the laptops they own. The fact is, the more you wrap mobile devices into security straitjackets, the less secure you are and the higher your costs go. And the less productive your employees are.
MDM by itself is not enough for effective BYOD