Consumerization and the BYOD Trend Heighten Data Leakage Fears

It's all about bring your own device for users, but it's up to corporate IT to battle data leakage. Learn how some collaboration tools are helping companies safeguard the network.

May 17, 2012

4 Min Read
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The growing consumerization trend is doing more than simply wreaking havoc for IT administrators looking to protect the corporate network from unknown infiltrators--it's also dramatically changing how data is being created, consumed and stored.

While that opens up market opportunities for a myriad of vendors, it's a veritable Pandora's Box for corporate IT grappling with ensuring that data leakage doesn't become the order of the day in the age of BYOD, or bring your own device. Ultimately, it has everything to do with creating information ubiquity, making data available to employees no matter where they are or what device they're using.

"This is a really interesting space because it overlaps so many adjacent areas that there isn't a category yet," says Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "The whole consumerization and mobilization of the workforce is what's driving this market ... the second driver is multiple people sharing that one copy of the truth versus having to email it between each other. It's not really true collaboration if everyone is working on a separate version of a file."

ESG is in the midst of studying the subject and future reports are forthcoming. In the meantime, the IT consultancy did produce a December 2011 report entitled "Online File Sharing and Collaboration in the Enterprise." It found that end users are "looking to tackle issues like data sharing, portability and access from multiple intelligent endpoint devices, creating a conundrum for IT as it needs to balance business enablement, ease of access, and collaborative capacity with the need to maintain control and security of information assets."

That's precisely what's driving the online file-sharing and collaboration segment of software-as-a-service, says McClure.

"This market is coming from the consumer workforce into the enterprise because enterprise IT is solving the challenge of collaboration with solutions like Microsoft SharePoint," she says. "But those solutions aren't Web-enabled so the challenge is, as more consumer devices make their way into the enterprise, a lot of people are solving this sharing between devices and one file between each other on their own."

Though new vendors are coming to the fore, the market itself isn't new, explains Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT Inc.

"It's new in the sense that we're seeing different players coming into the space and tweaking the services that they offer ... everyone's trying to reinvent the wheel," he says. "All of these solutions tend to roll in the same general direction.

"In businesses that are active users of information technology, information represents the crown jewels for a lot of companies, literally and figuratively."

Next: Secure Collaboration Tools to Protect DataOne vendor looking to capitalize on the growing opportunity is the lesser-known Soonr Inc. Though the company has been in business since 2005, it's maintained a low profile, selling its wares through partners. With the launch of a new product dubbed Soonr Enterprise, the vendor aims to answer corporate IT's need for business groups to access files securely within the cloud.

"Last year was the first year that mobile devices outsold personal computers, and it's only going to get worse or better depending on how you look at it from here on," says Martin Frid-Nielsen, Soonr's CEO. "We're seeing people carrying around [corporate] data on their devices, including laptops ... the IT people in these companies are concerned about physical security, about device security and also with what's being shared with others and they're worried about company data falling into the wrong hands."

But if it's a corporate-provisioned account, when an employee leaves, the company can just wipe out all those files.

"The company has control of its own information. There's still a possibility of data leakage. If someone really wants to steal data they could, there's always way to do it," McClure adds. "That's why so many companies are interested in these corporate-sanctioned accounts and that's the opportunity companies like Soonr are going after."

Everyone wants a piece of the pie, she says, and the market is wide open. There's no clear-cut leader in this space as of yet.

"There's VMware, with its Project Octopus; Microsoft SkyDrive; Google Drive; Apple iCloud, it's all about enabling mobilization," she adds. "There's not a leader in the business solutions space ... and it's a huge market."

One thing that consumerization has done is drive home the need for simplicity from the user's perspective. Enterprise IT must now consider the end user's experience unlike ever before when it comes to evaluating new solutions. And generally, IT executives are increasingly focused on service culture development.

"You need to make this as seamless and easy for everybody involved," King says. "Frankly, if you don't do that, your employees will find a service that does offer an intuitive user interface and ease-of-use tools."

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