Perhaps no business sector was quicker to recognize the benefits of mobile computing than the financial services industry. Services such as mobile banking, mobile payments and mobile commerce have matured rapidly with widespread adoption over the past five years. A July 2016 study from the IT consulting firm PointSource finds that 92 percent of financial services firms are invested in mobile.

While the financial services sector obviously places a great deal of emphasis on customer-facing applications, firms have also been quick to leverage mobility for organizational innovation. Mobile executives, brokers and agents are able to connect buyers and sellers, monitor markets and share information in ways that provide significant competitive advantages.

However, mobility also creates special challenges for financial services firms. While security concerns dog all mobile computing initiatives, they are particularly acute in finance. Mobile applications and devices must ensure that transactions are authorized and secure, compliant with applicable laws and industry guidelines, and conducted in ways that protect user privacy and financial data.

The sheer volume of devices is one of the prime challenges. In some of the largest banks and brokerage firms, IT is being asked to secure, support and manage hundreds or even thousands of different devices. The task is even tougher given that many of these are employee-owned devices with various operating systems.

BYOD (bring your own device) programs emerged as an attempt to exert some control over devices without stifling innovation. More recently, companies have begun evaluating CYOD (choose your own device) programs in which employees can choose from a limited selection of approved devices with the pre-configured security and control that IT needs to protect company data. The employee is responsible for purchasing the device, but the company usually owns the SIM and the legal rights to the data.

In either model, one excellent way to enhance the value of mobility initiatives is through integration with the existing communication infrastructure. This is where a powerful UC solutions such as ShoreTel Connect can make a huge difference. In addition to enabling a range of communication and collaboration tools, ShoreTel Connect has built-in features that will make mobile devices easier to manage and to secure.

AES-256 encryption ensures secure communications. Device- and user-level authentication with digital certification provides secure access, and a built-in VPN relieves users of the need to continually re-authenticate. Additionally, “dual persona” technology lets users maintain separate personal and business identities on a single device, and allows IT to firewall business and personal communications from each other.

Administration is simplified with ShoreTel Connect’s location-aware policies and enterprise directory integration. A virtualized mobile router automates software updates, eliminating the need for manual upgrades and end-user intervention.

Today’s full-featured mobile devices have changed the way people in the financial services industry interact with consumers and colleagues. However, the sensitive nature of the business makes it imperative that IT find ways to guard against data theft and prevent unauthorized users from accessing the corporate network.

BYOD and CYOD programs provide a structure for security and management, but that may not be enough. The integration of a powerful unified communications platform such as ShoreTel Connect offers built-in features that improve a firm’s ability to manage, secure and support mobile devices.

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