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Ovum's recently published report, Aligning Mobility Strategies with Data Privacy and Tax Regulations, investigates the differences between data privacy and tax regulations across multiple key geographies in terms of the impact they will have on corporate mobility policies. The market for enterprise mobility management (EMM) technology that manages and secures data on mobile devices has picked up extremely quickly over the last few years as consumerization has changed business tools and processes. However, businesses are still not acting quickly enough to mitigate the risks of deploying such security features on devices that may also be used in an employee's private life.

Corporate mobility policies lack sufficient coverage

Organizations have a range of choices in terms of how to equip their workforce with mobile devices. But whether through bring your own device (BYOD) strategies or corporate-owned concepts such as choose your own device (CYOD), similar attention needs to be paid to the impact of local privacy and tax regulations as they could produce serious repercussions. First, there is the key issue of privacy: If an organization installs EMM software that is able to monitor activity and lock and wipe data on employees' devices without their proper knowledge or consent, the organization could be in violation of the individual's data privacy rights, depending on local laws. Second, issues around taxation arise in some scenarios: If employees are given a monthly stipend or one-off payment to buy their own device that can also be used for work, or if they are given a corporate device that can also be used for personal activity, either the individual or the business may be liable to pay tax on this as a benefit in kind, depending on local tax laws.

This is not just a legal issue, or a technical one, but is about corporate culture. Making sure that employees are informed about the risks and consequences of using mobile devices at work and giving them different options – or indeed the option to opt out – is an important part of retaining a happy, motivated workforce that trusts their employer to do the right thing by them. Having employees sign up to specific mobile terms of use as part of their employment contract is important in terms of protecting them and the overall organization, but it is still not something that enough organizations do well: While over 68% of employees worldwide use their own devices for work, only 30% have signed up to a corporate policy governing that usage. When it comes to corporate mobility policies, enterprises must balance business need, data privacy legislation, and staying on the right side of the tax authorities – and for most organizations, there is still a lot of work to do.


Further reading

Aligning Mobility Strategies with Data Privacy and Tax Regulations, IT0021-000094 (August 2015)

Beyond BYOD: How Businesses Might COPE With Mobility, IT0021-000008 (May 2014)

Employee Mobility Survey 2014 Results: BYOD and Enterprise Approaches to Mobility Management, IT0021-000020 (September 2014)

International Data Privacy Legislation Review: A Guide for BYOD Policies, IT006-000234 (May 2012)


Richard Absalom, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Mobility and Productivity

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