WE’RE HEARING…that those new iPads and tablets people in the mortgage industry are going to get for Christmas increasingly will be used for work as well as personal business. The era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is here.

Experts in mobile device management are telling me that companies are increasingly turning their attention to the development of apps that will make it easier to bring your own device into the workplace.

Cheaper is better, right? Not always. With the proliferation of cheaper tablets that run on the Android operating system, mortgage IT departments will continue to face the burden of managing and overseeing business apps being used on multiple types of machines using different operating systems.

Chandra Sekar, a director at Zenprise, told me his firm’s clients have started to rethink how they approach “enterprise mobility.” In phase one of  BYOD, the focus was on security. Companies have found that the need to support multiple devices is a given, so now they are starting to focus on how they can optimize the benefits of mobility.

A recent Zenprise survey found that companies plan on ramping up their development of business apps that can be used on tablet devices.

“Almost 75% of them said they will be deploying mobile apps to support their lines of business within the next 12 months,” Sekar told me. About half of those respondents say they will deploy apps related to “mission critical” functions. Firms are about equally divided between those developing apps in-house and those relying on software vendors to develop apps.

Sekar told me that while Apple’s iPad and its iOS operating platform remain the dominant platform for BYOD activity, Android devices are gaining market share. And he expects the Android system, which can be used on tablets and smartphones created by multiple providers, will continue to gain share.

However, the Zenprise survey found that iOS continues to be the most commonly adopted mobile operating system in the real estate and insurance industries.

But even as companies turn their attention toward optimizing the benefits of mobile devices, security of consumer data, business data and network access remain the highest concerns of executives who participated in the Zenprise survey. In fact, 80% of respondents continued to cite security as their top MDM concern.

Ojas Rege, vice president for strategy at Mobileiron, told me that this year people started to realize that mobile devices are for “more than just email.” While he says the financial services sector has been slower to develop and support mobile apps for their employees, they have been ahead of the curve in terms of developing mobile apps for consumers.

But that may be changing.

In 2013, he predicts that we’ll see the rise of “mobile first” financial services firms, which develop apps for mobile devices before they expand them for desktop or laptop use.

Financial services firms have been slower to embrace BYOD for employee use because of concerns about data security and because many financial services employees work at desk-based jobs where there is less need to rely on tablets and smart phones.

In the real estate finance space, however, many financial employees are in the field and interest in developing apps to reduce turnaround times and eliminate paperwork is keen. That field workforce offers mortgage firms the biggest business advantages and ROI from investments on mobile technology.

But the reliance on mortgage brokers, title agents and others who have an “agent-based” relationship with the lender means they have to be able to support a lot of devices, including the rapidly growing Android segment of the market.

Lenders also have to communicate and negotiate rules and privacy standards for agents. In an agent-based environment, a lender’s IT department can’t exert as much authority over users.

WHAT WE’RE GOING TO BE HEARING…We’ve assembled the most talented writers in the mortgage business to write this column and keep us abreast of what they are hearing from the most knowledgeable sources. BONNIE SINNOCK will cover the securities markets, TED CORNWELL technology and servicing, MARK FOGARTY and BRIAN COLLINS the DC and national markets, and there will be room for pieces from origination sources and other SourceMedia writers as well. Click on our lead blog every day to check out what we’re hearing!