BAT deploys Bring Your Own Device platform

British American Tobacco (BAT) is implementing a mobility strategy around a platform supplied by Excitor. The Dynamic Mobile Exchange solution will allow the company to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), BAT CIO Phil Colman told CIO UK.

Around 35,000 staff at BAT are regular users of technology Colman explained, but the platform will potentially allow many more staff not currently supported by BAT's mobility strategy to use thier own mobile devices at work.

Colman explained that the initiative was driven by the increasing demand by staff to use smartphone devices for work, against pressure to cut IT costs.

"There's no way as a corporate that we can keep up with the pace of the consumerisation of technology," he said.

The solution he explained was to step away from supplying handsets to employees. The Excitor platform provides secure access to company data, in a traceable way, without compromising personal use of the device.

Colman explained that the company would operate a multi-tiered mobility strategy. Those employees that do not justify remote working but would like to make use of it, will be given access to company systems through the platform from their own device, but will not be given a company SIM.

Managers who need to access company data from overseas will be given a company SIM and an allowance of data and calls. Those employees already supplied with BlackBerry devices by the company on the existing mobility deployment will be allowed to retain them, but support for those devices will be gradually phased out, as demand for it abates.

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Colman said the company has rolled out IOS support in the UK and is set to extend this to Android and Windows Mobile devices in the country. There is currently a trial being conducted in BAT's Brazil operation and Colman hopes to roll out the platform globally over 2012. However, this depends on each locality's HR policies.

HR and compliance were the two biggest considerations, Colman said.

"We weren't prepared to release the system until the HR rules about personal and corporate data were ironed out," he said.

BAT is subject to strict regulations on the traceability of corporate records and all data accessible by mobile devices will be duplicated on a Lotus Notes platform, so that independent auditors can track it.

"What made it a success for us, is that we have made the users' perspective a parallel priority with security," Colman said.

The system allows employees to access corporate systems through a downloadable app. This mean work and personal use on the device are entirely separate.

He is working with Excitor to provide a mini-app store for employees so that they can select the most relevant corporate applications by themselves.