Social Media, BYOD Offer Managed Security Opportunities

Developing trends in social networking and employees bringing their own mobile devices to work (BYOD) stand to create significant opportunities for managed security service providers offering mobile device management. Research firm Gartner identified three significant trends with potential impact on the managed security marketplace as part of its top predictions for IT organizations for 2013 and beyond. Here's a look.

Those trends are leakage of enterprise contact information into Facebook, compromise of employee-owned devices by malware, and IT services market consolidation. Let’s investigate the specifics of each trend as it pertains to MSPs and their security services clients.

By 2017, 4o percent of enterprise contact information will have leaked into Facebook via employees' increased use of mobile device collaboration applications: Gartner identifies Facebook is one of the top five applications installed on smartphones and tablets, and notes that many organizations are being pressured to permit interlinking with Facebook and similar products because they products provide a high degree of leverage for new contacts. However, there has been little discussion about the underlying technologies that permit transfer of information between legitimate enterprise-controlled applications and consumer applications. These interactions are difficult to track, and the technologies to control the transfer are more difficult to build, deploy and manage.

In addition, the success of Facebook has spawned a whole new wave of enterprise social networks such as Yammer, and Jive that are quickly developing into collaborative solutions that extend far beyond the corporate firewall. MSPs can play a curical role in securing, tracking and managing how enterprise contact information and other sensitive corporate data is transferred via consumer and professional social networking tools.

Through 2014, employee-owned devices will be compromised by malware at more than double the rate of corporate-owned devices: Gartner believes that enterprises will adopt a similar approach to that used by colleges and universities to govern network access in the face of rapidly expanding BYOD popularity. Namely, they will block or restrict access for those devices that are not compliant with corporate policies. In the BYOD era, companies will need to diligently monitor vulnerability announcements and security incidents involving mobile devices and respond appropriately with policy updates. Many companies lack the staffing, technology, money, time and/or knowhow to perform this type of monitoring. MSPs offer the perfect solution.

By 2014, market consolidation will displace up to 20 percent of the top 100 IT services providers: By 2015, Gartner predicts low-cost cloud services will cannibalize up to 15 percent of top outsourcing players' revenue, and more than 20 percent of large IT outsourcers not investing enough in industrialization and value-added services will disappear through merger and acquisition. This will limit and endanger the typical offshore/nearshore approach run by dedicated IT services providers and create low-cost options onshore, such as MSPs.

While this trend does not only apply to MSPs offering security services, it is worth noting in the context of Gartner’s other MSP-friendly predictions. Agile, customer-focused MSPs who take advantage of low-cost cloud services may find themselves in a much better competitive position against larger IT services providers in the not-too-distant future, as long as they play their cards right during the transition. This means remaining focused on agility and top-quality customer service while also fully availing themselves of the efficiencies cloud computing can create in managed service delivery.

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