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Q&A: Accellion’s Paula Skokowski talks BYOD and WYOD

CBR sits down with Paula Skokowski, CMO at Accellion, to discuss her company and the ever-evolving market it operates in.

By Alexander Sword

CBR: How has the market evolved during your time with Accellion?

Paula: The market is evolving so incredibly. We’re living in a golden age right now with all the stuff happening with mobile, cloud, devices…when I first joined the company the issue that our customers were solving was, ‘how do you share a really large file?’ Then it became, ‘how do you share information that’s very confidential?’ Then it became, ‘how do you access and share this information securely on a mobile device?’

Today you have wearable devices, going even beyond smartphones and tablets. The whole point is that enterprise content is often sensitive in nature, or it may in fact be governed by government regulations – you’re capturing personal information and you have an obligation to ensure that you’re tracking it and controlling it.

Now corporations have a workforce that is bringing in devices; how do you get those productivity gains without exposing all sorts of information?

CBR: You have recently blogged about the coming WYOD, or "wear your own device", workplace. What do you foresee happening in the wearables market?

Paula: I do think that the Apple Watch will be like the iPhone and iPad. It was the iPad that started the whole BYOD trend. It was actually the consumerisation of IT – whether it was the first or not, it was the thing that really caused the wave. I think the Apple Watch is going to do the same thing for wearables.

Why? The design of Apple products – people just love them, so they flock to them. They may have bought them as their own personal purchases, but then they take them into work and start using them for work-based communication.

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The reason the iPad created such an upheaval was that now people could get hold of devices and apps themselves, so they didn’t have to wait for the IT department.

It’s the same with wearables – you don’t have to wait for your company to give you the device.

This is an opportunity to get ahead of something. BYOD caught everyone off-guard but there’s no reason why with wearables you couldn’t get ahead of it.

CBR: What are the main differences between WYOD and BYOD?

Paula: BYOD is mobile devices and apps communicating via wi-fi with cloud services. The point is, employees could get hold of all of this stuff without IT. If they’re using it to share enterprise content then there are some security issues. Well, wearable devices build off this whole infrastructure – really it’s just an extension of it with Bluetooth communication.

So, to the extent that people tackle and get a handle on how employees should be using devices, what applications they should be using, then…wearable devices are just another end-point, they are using the same infrastructure.

So whatever you put in place to enable secure sharing for BYOD, you could use the same for WYOD.

CBR: So what should people be prepared for?

Paula: There are some specific security and privacy concerns that really show up with wearables and that is that there’s a lot of data that you could get through a wearable device. Just because you can collect data doesn’t mean you should collect data. In fact, whatever data you collect, you’re going to have to be cognisant of privacy and security.

Wearable devices are both input and output devices and when they’re capturing location, video, images, temperatures – they have the potential for having a privacy issue if it is used in a way that was never agreed to. Perhaps it could be used to infer things about somebody.

I think these are issues that go above beyond phones and tablets. By 2018 a high percentage of wearables devices are going to be inconspicuous.

A lot of people want to get BYOD policies in place for what is acceptable and that is going to have to be extended for wearables.

CBR: What marks Accellion out in this secure sharing field?

Paula: Accellion is unique in that we are placing this very focused attention on the content. The industry initially with devices was focusing on securing the device. The device is not the issue – it’s the content. In most cases, the organisation doesn’t own the device – what you need to protect is the content that is being input on that device or delivered to that device.

So Accellion has this focus around content. We have a private cloud approach, so everything we do has a security focus. Yes it’s got to be convenient and easy to use, but it’s got to be secure.

80 percent of our customers use our private cloud approach, which means no communal data. When we do a private cloud deployment for a customer, they own everything – they own their data, they own the encryption key for the data, their encryption keys to the cloud. That’s what sets Accellion apart.

With Accellion, we’ve always been ahead on enterprise focus, so our solution is intended to integrate into enterprise infrastructure. We recognise that you’ve already got this content – customer records, financial records, blueprints, designs – you’ve already got these, perhaps stored in on-premise content stores. We’re not saying you have to store your content with Accellion. You can get your enterprise content wherever it is and securely work on it.


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