You can’t afford to give people complete mobile freedom: Sybase

Dr. Raj Nathan, executive vice president and CMO at SAP-owned Sybase, has told CBR that businesses cannot afford to give workers full access to corporate data from mobile devices.

Speaking at SAP TechEd/Sapphire Now being held in Madrid, Nathan said one of the issues with the so-called consumerisation of IT is the security risks it raises. Even if executives demand full access, companies should resist if they want to remain secure, he told CBR.

"There are three assets to the consumerisation of IT," Nathan told us. "First is making apps accessible and easy to use for infrequent users, second is making them person-centric rather than task-centric and finally it is people bringing their own devices into the work place."

It is the final element that Nathan claims is causing the biggest headache for IT admins. The proliferation of personal devices in the workplace – often started by C-level execs bringing their iPads into the office, Nathan says – means there are a wide variety of mobile platforms, and IT cannot support them all.

"The uniform model will be very difficult to achieve," Nathan said. "Different people in the organisation will have different needs from mobile devices. For example at a car rental organisation the person who goes out to check the vehicle and report back via a mobile device will have different needs to someone in a sales department."

"However, you cannot afford to give people complete freedom, because there is data within a company that you simply don’t ever want to put on a mobile device," he added.

There are approaches that can improve the safety of data on mobile devices, such as separating personal and business data, ensuring it is encrypted, remote wipe capabilities and making sure no passwords are stored on the device.

Mobility has been a big part of the SAP/Sybase message at TechEd/Sapphire Now in Madrid so it will be interesting to see how Nathan’s comments sit with the grand SAP plan to get its portfolio of applications on to mobile devices.

SAP acquired mobile device management company Sybase for $5.8bn in May 2010.

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