SMBs are highly mobilized, but not highly prepared to manage their mobile environments, according to interim results of a recent study from mobile security provider MobiliSafe. The study, which mapped 38 million SMB employee mobile device connections, revealed that on average, more than 80% of SMB staffers are already using smartphones and tablets.

The rapid growth of mobile device use among SMB employees appears to be growing faster than management’s capability to control it. For example, 56% of iOS devices (Apple iPad, Apple iPhone) were running out-of-date firmware, and 39% of total authenticated mobile devices were inactive for more than 30 days, prompting concerns and conversations with employees about lost, sold or otherwise misplaced devices with employee credentials and sensitive corporate data.

More generally speaking, the study indicates the majority of SMB's are highly mobilized, driven by the bring your own device (BYOD) trend of recent years, but SMB IT managers significantly underestimate the number and kinds of mobile devices connecting to their network. In addition,  SMB IT departments lack solutions to map their corporate standard for information security used with laptops, desktops and servers to mobile devices.

Even though there are serious concerns about data risk on mobile devices, SMBs do not feel they have adequate tools to determine those risks and respond to them. And a newly developing risk is that of the burgeoning market for resold mobile devices. Mobilisafe quotes statistics indicating half of mobile devices sold on eBay still contain personal information on them.

MSPs Can Ease Mobile Management Madness

Mobile device use among SMB employees is not going away, and growth is not likely to slow down. Despite the numerous risks and issues associated with BYOD, the fact remains SMBs gain many benefits from this workplace trend, including reduced cost of overhead, increased ability to affordably extend the corporate enterprise, and reduced need to train employees on how to use mobile devices, since they presumably already know how to use their personal devices.

By removing mobile management issues from the shoulders of harried SMB IT managers and turning BYOD into a managed service, MSPs can eliminate the problems associated with mobile devices while retaining the positives. The standard caveat emptor attached to studies conducted by vendors applies here, but the basic notion that managing mobile devices is a huge headache for SMBs has been proven elsewhere. How MSPs respond to that proof is up to them.