Security and business compatibility are the top considerations when it comes to enterprises picking their preferred Web browsers for work purposes, particularly with the rising proliferation of Web-based enterprise applications, according to industry watchers.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, noted that since the browser plays such an elemental role in workers' interactions outside the corporate firewall, security would have to be the topmost factor on organizations' list of considerations.
These companies' decisions would be influenced by the recommendations made by their IT department, as the browser would have to work well with internally-developed Web apps. Those that utilize software-as-a-service (SaaS) would have to factor compatibility and security of these services on the chosen browser as well, he added.
This way, enterprises can ensure there will not be any negative impact from applications not working on the designated browsers or poor network performance when using the apps--which erodes the value of the service they have paid for, the analyst said.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, reiterated King's observations, identifying support, convenience, and confidence as supporting points to determining which browser is the most secure and suitable for the organization.
"You're looking for a patch methodology that won't break [or disrupt the business], and a level of confidence the browser maker will be there for you, preferably with enterprise-class support should you need them," Enderle stated.
He also called on companies to block off the other options from its network after choosing their browsers as these are not compliant with their security policy. This helps IT do away with the chore and complexity of managing and ensuring that Web-based software is compatible with the various browsers end-users have been using previously, he explained.
How well employees' adhere to company policies on browser choice will depend on how the organization views and addresses security and compatibility issues though, Enderle stressed.
King also pointed out that companies need to accept there is no browser in the market currently that fully guarantees security or optimal app performance. Managing browser choices is only one of several factors, with other ongoing trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) making the situation trickier, he said.
Business concerns trump user preference
Companies that ZDNet Asia talked to agreed that security and compatibility with business requirements were topmost factors in terms of browser choice.
Matthew Kovac, Asia-Pacific director of corporate communications at Wincor Nixdorf, said its decision to determine which browsers to use for its employees is based on security concerns, and for it to monitor and control the organization's business environment.
"Our official policy is to have only Mozilla's Firefox and Internet Explorer. They are considered more stable than other browsers. In our circumstances, we deal with very sensitive customer data so it is an appropriate reason and a fair corporate position to decide which browser will be used [over users' preferences]," Kovac said.
Social media marketing company Blugrapes pointed to its business needs as the main reason for determining internal browser choices. One such need is for it to test the compatibility of the apps it develops on various online services such as Facebook, Google Apps, and third-party extensions in Firefox, said Ryan Lim, the company's business director.
"Currently, we encourage Safari and Firefox for our Mac users, and Chrome and Firefox for PC users," he noted, adding these were chosen because they support its business in terms of security and compatibility too.
The company is flexible, though, in allowing employees to install a secondary browser of their preference as long as it helps them in their work and is supported on Windows and Mac operating systems, Lim noted.