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Employees using their own devices in the workplace results in innovation and cost-savings but also creates security challenges. Industry experts at this year’s week-long technology trade  show GITEX, which kicks off in Dubai October 14, will discuss the advantages and implications of BYOD in the workplace.



The Middle East is bracing itself for security challenges as BYOD trend grows. Technology experts such as Dell’s Dave Brook and Todd Thibodeaux, CEO of the Computing Technology Industry Association will discuss challenges faced by CIOs and how to benefit from BYOD’s cost saving potential and establishing policy to reduce liability risks.


While the concept of allowing BYOD in the workplace is new for enterprises in the Middle East, employers are slowly warming up to the idea. According to networking vendor Aruba Networks, 80% of companies in the region allowed some form of access to staff. Against a backdrop of discerning, youthful and tech-savvy populations, experts believe the ability to use smartphones and tablets in the workplace has shifted from negotiable luxury to a specific demand; a study by Fortinet found 56% of respondents in the Middle East considered using their own device as a right rather than a privilege. Furthermore, according to ABI Research, 2.4 billion employees will be using smartphones in the office worldwide – a growth rate of nearly 17%.


Looking at the big picture, a report by Markets and Markets predicts the BYOD and enterprise mobility market will reach US$181.39 billion by 2017, increasing by 15.17% each year. With Google’s annual Mobile Planet smartphone study claiming the UAE has a smartphone penetration rate of 62% and Ericsson's second Traffic and Market Report stating the Middle East as a whole enjoys a mobile penetration rate of 96%, there is enormous potential for BYOD uptake and acceleration across the region. Analysis by consulting firm A.T. Kearney suggests BYOD can deliver savings of up to 22%, taking into account software depreciation and maintenance costs. A global pilot study by a software firm, for example, reduced device management costs by 20% and the budget for maintenance and upgrade tasks by 80%.

Aruba’s findings chime with the notion of performance enhancements, indicating that 35% of organisations in EMEA expect to improve coverage and capacity of their wireless network to support BYOD initiatives. Furthermore, 53% of organisations indicated they anticipate an increase in wireless investment in the coming year. Nevertheless, the BYOD boom is not without its pitfalls. Forrester Consulting says 86% of surveyed IT decision-makers in the United Kingdom, United States and Germany pegged data security as the number one concern, while half (47%) of enterprises allowing employee-owned devices to connect to a company's network reported experience of a data breach.


Elsewhere, KnowBe4 and Information Technology Intelligence Consulting flags up the worrying observation that 71% of businesses that allow BYOD have no specific policies and procedures in place to support deployment and ensure security. Common BYOD risks often stem from the lack of company-wide protection after employees download malware hidden within legitimate apps, click on a malicious links or open dubious attachments. “With an increasingly tech-savvy workforce and employees focused on productivity, companies in the Middle East have everything to gain from fully embracing the consumerisation of IT trend and the desire to be increasingly mobile,” says Dave Brook, GM Middle East, Dell.


“The ability to work anywhere is driving higher productivity for employers, with employees looking to be evaluated on the output of their work versus the number of hours spent. These factors are redefining the workplace.” André Scheffknecht of British IT security company Sophos, says the Middle East is tech savvy  and BYOD is set to grow exponentially. “To this end, a degree of pragmatism is needed in the business community, as well as a measured approach to adaptation that avoids security risks and cost-intensive mishaps,”


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