Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

The inclination among
employees to bring personal mobile devices into the workplace is creating
serious challenges for companies that have to protect their networks against
unauthorized use.

IT managers often
don’t even know what or how many devices are tapping their networks, and it
doesn’t take a genius to figure out how dangerous that is. Even innocently, an
employee could expose his or her company to a security leak, which could lead
to unpleasant regulatory penalties.

As usual, whenever an
IT challenge presents itself in the business world, it creates opportunities
for solution providers. This one revolves around managing and securing personal
mobile devices that tap corporate networks.

It’s a new opportunity
with lots of potential because the challenge has remained mostly unmet and
promises to get more complex with the ongoing proliferation of mobile devices. Users
are growing rather attached to their smartphones, tablets and laptops, and in
many cases they simply can’t resist logging on while at work.

Employers, therefore,
have to figure out how to promote the safe use of these devices so they don’t
end up with a potentially catastrophic security leak or breach. The alternative
– banning the devices – is simply impractical, if not outright impossible.
We’re not talking about playing “Angry Birds” here; many employees actually use
personal devices to help them with their work.

This challenge was the
topic of a Ziff Davis Enterprise webcast I recently moderated, titled “Capitalizing
On The Mobile Computing Revolution:
To Incorporate Mobile Devices Into Your Services Offering
,” with
panelists Howard Cohen, senior resultant at The Tech
Channel Partners Results Group; Patrick Burns, director of product development at Autotask;
and Channel Insider Editor Jessica

Cohen talked about the emergence of a new model in the IT
channel, the “mobility management service provider (MMSP),” which revolves
around consulting services to set policies for, manage and secure mobile
devices in the workplace. The MMSP, Cohen posited, has a fundamental role in guiding
business customers toward the implementation of a secure mobile device platform
compliant with regulations governing the use, transmission, storage and
recovery of data.

With smartphones becoming the primary device to communicate
and access information, and tablets replacing laptops in travel, Cohen sees a
real need for solution providers to step up to the plate.

And he’s not alone. The Computing Technology Industry
Association (CompTIA) has launched an effort to help solution providers seize
mobile management opportunities. The association is developing IT channel
training programs and resources focused on how to accommodate mobile devices within
the enterprise.

To that end, CompTIA is creating an advisory board with
participation from all sectors of the mobile community, including carriers,
application developers, solution providers and manufacturers. Invitations have
gone out to join the group, which Kelly Ricker,
CompTIA’s vice president of events and education, says “will help to direct the
goals and objectives for CompTIA’s mobile technology channel training

The advisory group will be tasked
with studying various aspects of mobile management, including the bundling and
marketing of device management services, mobile security, help desk, and mobile
application development and management.

CompTIA is relatively quick in
launching useful programs for the IT channel, but solution providers should in
the meantime already be working with their customers on how to manage mobile
devices and protect themselves.

They need to develop policies
requiring employees to inform the IT department about the devices they use, and
whether they use them for work-related functions. Providers also must persuade
employers to either issue company-owned devices or secure personal smartphones,
tablets and laptops.

While an employer may resist
paying to secure a personal device, doing so has multiple benefits. Not only
are employers protecting themselves, but they also are giving workers something
they are bound to view it as a perk. And, hey, perks are always nice.

The digital world is becoming
increasingly mobile. And like anything worth doing, getting a handle on the
management of mobility will take some work. For solution providers, of course,
that’s always a good thing.


Pedro Pereira is a columnist for Channel
Insider and a freelance writer. He can be reached at