2014 Telecom Expense Management Trend #2: The Privacy War

As a followup to our TEM in 2014: History and Trends webinar (available as a stream or a white paper), we’re offering a series of posts covering telecom expense management – where it came from, where it’s going, and trends for the future.

In recent posts we discussed the BYOD trend and the thorny issues it brings up, from rising costs to security concerns.   Now we get into the fact that the need for tight BYOD security puts demands on employees, demands they may see as a breach of their privacy.

This is rapidly escalating into an antagonistic Privacy War pitting “Employer vs Employee”.  When mobile security policies are perceived as leaning too far into personal space, it can lead to a withering of trust.  For example, mobile devices can run apps that track usage as well as location – but when is that necessary, and is it even legal?  Either way, you can bet that employees probably won’t like someone knowing where they are every second of every day.

They also may not want the firm knowing all the apps they use, or websites they visit, or who and when they call on the phone.  And what about remote data wiping?  If an employee loses their phone, is it company policy to wipe the memory or disable the device somehow – and what ramifications does that have for the employee’s personal data?  There are a lot of ways that securing the company’s data and networks flies in the face of the employees’ wants or needs.

This conflict can lead staff to actively thwart security measures designed to protect the firm’s interest.   Or policies can be rendered ineffective simply through sloppy personal habits.  That isn’t such a stretch, when even today – in a increasingly insecure digital world, 12345 and qwerty and “password” are still top passcodes. As they say, you can’t save someone from themselves.  But the attempt becomes more critical when you’re trying to save the entire company from that one small hole in security that lets in the hackers.

One bright spot is the growing hope that biometrics can bridge the gap by providing strong security measures that are easy to use and less annoying to the employee.  Gartner predicts at least 30 percent of organizations will soon use biometric tech to secure devices connecting to their network. An example is the fingerprint scanner already in use on the newer Apple devices.  There is also discussion that retinal scanning tech – already available on some laptops – may be coming soon to a phone near you.

Next Trend #3: The Mobile Carrier Wars