A mobile, productive workforce or a security risk?

Several surveys highlight the gap between employee expectations and the reality resulting in them creating their own 'Shadow IT' services.

93% of IT and telecoms leaders in the UK believe that enabling staff to ‘go mobile’ has increased productivity and 47% of the claim the improvement was a substantial one.  However, 71% acknowledge there is still scope for further productivity boosts.

188 firms in the UK were surveyed for the 2014 Mobility Productivity Survey.  The most popular mobile activities for staff are emailing, sharing files and accessing data but increasing numbers are using their devices to create as well as to consume content.

Respondents suggest that their mobile focus in 2015 will switch to enabling unified communication, including enabling video conferencing and workflow management.

Employees agree with their leaders about the need for further investment.  Research by Source for Consulting conducted in 160 UK organisations found that two thirds of responding employees believe their productivity could be boosted by greater investment in mobile technology.

In other research conducted by Forrester in Asia, Europe and the US (white paper can be downloaded here), IT leaders were asked how they are managing the increased complexity of the mobile and BYOD workforce while ensuring data security.

IT leaders are looking to deliver integrated strategies to support flexible and mobile working.  These strategies require collaboration with workers to develop and deliver services, raising IT’s profile as a key strategic partner helping to create competitive advantage.  Failure to work at this strategic level brings the risk of major data loss, uncoordinated decision making and higher operational costs.

In the latest European Cloud Adoption and Risk Report surveying 1.6 million cloud users, the average number of cloud services used by the average company has increased by 23% in 2014.

The report found that fewer than 10% of these services meet the ‘most stringent’ security requirements while 74% of clouds services used by European firms do not meet the EU’s Data Protection Directive’s regulations.

Once again, the challenge is that employees are using services without the express knowledge or support of their IT departments.  This trend to ‘Shadow IT’ services poses enormous security risks to businesses.  In one case highlighted by the report one single employee uploaded over 17GB of sensitive data to 71 high risk cloud services over three months.