Mobile device management at growing CPA firms is causing IT departments concern, not only just over control issues but on educating staff on devices, apps, and the security risks that go with them.

This was the general theme of a breakout technology session on mobile device management lead by CohnReznick chief information officer Marc Staut at this year’s AICPA Practitioners Symposium, Tech+ Conference and AAM Summit.

The large firm CIO mapped out trends in the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, including employee expectations, preferred devices and app usage.

“BYOD is becoming more important because it is a cost-savings issue as well as about keeping employees happy. Ultimately it’s about productivity and what we have to remember is people are just trying to do their jobs,” said Staut.

He pointed to statistics among the younger generation, Millenials in particular, that are expecting to enter the workplace (accounting firms included) with the ability to work on the best possible technology or at least their device of choice.

In fact, Accenture research showed that 87 percent of Millenials decide where they work based on the availability of state-of-the-art technology and, moreover, Staut noted that many younger employees would take a job at a comparatively reduced salary if they were allowed to work on the devices they want.

Staut spoke about some of the devices that are driving the BYOD trend, as well as the increase in issues with apps – particularly as it relates to their compromises in security and network stalls and downtime. The primary non-tablet mobile devices, he said, that are currently behind BYOD include the iPhone 5(iOS), Google Nexus(Google), Samsung Galaxy(Android), and Nokia Lumia(Windows). But devices, Staut noted, are likely to become less important than the ecosystem professionals are working in.

“The choice you’re making [as it relates to BYOD] is less about the device, and more about the software ecosystem,” said Staut. “Devices need to play together better and if you invest in a lot of apps, it’s hard to move out of that ecosystem.”

Specifically on the issue of apps, Staut noted that every time there’s a software update users can count on networks going down or stalling. There is also a rise in “greedy apps” which is any application that has the ability to automatically updates itself.

Other trends in mobility management at the business level include choose your own device(CYOD) and what Staut calls here’s your own device (HYOD). With CYOD, firms get a list of mobile devices from employees that they would like to work on, select that device, and configure it for safe work use – usually through mobile device management(MDM) tools including Mobile Iron, AirWatch, Fiberlink, and Citrix.

Staut noted that HYOD is “making a comeback” in some enterprise environments, which the company selects a preferred device employees will work on and can be for personal use as well. These are securely configured and usually “top of the market” devices that are returned once an employee leaves.

Finally, Staut offered a list of “don’ts” for any organization addressing BYOD and mobile device management. Don’t: compromise privacy, reimburse for apps, offer unlimited support, allow opt outs of critical upgrades, exclude the right to wipe the device.

“When it comes to BYOD and mobile device management you may find that most people are scared of a mobile device tracking system because they think they’re always being watched, but reality is IT doesn’t usually have time to do that,” said Staut. “Clear communication is critical, as are employee responsibilities; make sure these happen.”

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