Embracing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend and supporting the personal cloud is helping enterprises empower a highly mobile workforce. Today, multimedia tablets are driving the BYOD trend.
People buy tablets for their personal use, then want to enjoy the same features and benefits at work, such as:
- A great user experience. People develop a strong emotional attachment to their tablets, viewing them as “objects of desire” rather than simply tools to get the job done. They enjoy interacting with the intuitive interface. And they find the light, portable devices a less cumbersome option than personal computers for working while on-the-move.
- More apps and more flexibility. Apps for almost every imaginable use are at peoples’ fingertips. They can easily pick and choose their preferred apps to build a personal cloud. And they can reshape their personal cloud whenever they want, adding and removing apps to meet changing requirements.
- The self-service model. People like being able to choose and easily acquire apps that help them work more efficiently. In most cases, the apps downloaded to tablets complement corporate apps. They fill the gaps between the apps provided by their IT departments and those needed to meet business imperatives.
- Extreme simplicity. Because tablets originated in the consumer space, there is almost no learning curve. People instantly understand how to use the tablets and how to customize them for their own needs. They don’t need to be tech-savvy to add or remove apps.
Ignoring the BYOD trend brings risks
Most enterprise IT departments recognize they can’t afford to ignore the BYOD trend; in particular, they can’t ignore the advent of tablets and smartphones into the professional sphere. The risks are too high. Those who ignore, or are slow to respond to the BYOD trend, risk losing corporate data and people.
In a 2011 report, Yankee Group introduced what it calls the Connected Experience, a revolution driven by “the coming together of lightning fast broadband and wireless networks, device evolution, the maturation of cloud computing and growth of mobile applications. This new revolution, driven primarily by end-users, will be orders of magnitude larger than the Internet revolution and will result in a market opportunity for devices, apps/content and networks that will reach more than U.S. $2 trillion by 2014.”
People won’t stop using their personal tablets for work because their enterprise IT departments don’t want to support them. Tablets fulfill both desires and workplace needs so people will simply continue to use the devices for work without providing any visibility to their IT departments. This can put enterprises in a risky position if the device is lost or stolen. IT won’t even know that it has happened. And there may not be a backup. Corporate data could end up in the public domain or lost forever.
Losing control of corporate data is never a good thing. However, losing motivated employees who are pushing hardest to accomplish more can be even worse. These employees will prefer to work for companies that understand their needs and will support them in their efforts to build a personal cloud that lets them work efficiently anytime, anywhere.
3 strategies to support BYOD
The communications services, apps and network infrastructure that enterprises deliver today were developed for the era of personal computers and desktop phones. In today’s personal cloud era, communications services, apps and network infrastructure should be centered on people and their needs, rather than devices. With this approach, employees no longer need to adapt their work style to match what is provided. Instead, they enjoy the same flexibility and choices they have come to value in their personal lives.
It’s not enough to deliver specific communications services and apps for specific devices. Every app should be available for every device. Tablets won’t replace traditional office devices; they will complement them. As people switch between devices, locations and tasks, they need flexibility and control over the services and apps they use to continue working efficiently.
An enterprise app store gives people the levels of flexibility and control they want. Instead of pushing the same device-centric communications services to the entire employee population, IT departments need to offer a broad choice of user-centric applications. Employees can choose the apps that are best-suited to their role, objectives and current tasks. And they can change them when necessary.
Supporting BYOD requires an intelligent network. That means wired and wireless networks must be considered as a whole and become application fluent. An application fluent network can recognize different traffic types. It can also prioritize traffic based on the application and monitor traffic to ensure priorities are maintained.
Each of the following capabilities is also important to support BYOD:
- Wireless connections — especially Wi-Fi® connections — must be able to deliver the bandwidth and QoS people will expect.
- The network infrastructure must deliver the bandwidth needed to accommodate higher levels of video and multimedia traffic.
- Networks must be able to prioritize non-business and business-critical network traffic to ensure that higher bandwidth and QoS are provided to the business-critical traffic.
Network access control is another important requirement to support BYOD. The network should be able to grant access to devices that are recognized, even though they are personal devices. It should also be able to block access to non-recognized devices. This stops stolen or unauthorized devices from accessing the corporate network.
Adopt the cloud
To support mobility and self-service consumption models, enterprises need a cloud-ready architecture. A cloud-based approach allows access to apps, services and other resources anytime, anywhere — with bandwidth, QoS and priority of service that matches business objectives. The cloud-ready architecture should be:
- Scalable, to support an unknown number of personal devices that may be brought into the enterprise.
- Centralized, to take advantage of apps and services from any location. With a centralized approach enterprises can build a private cloud that interconnects employees’ personal clouds, gaining visibility and control across all clouds.
The same cloud-ready architecture that supports communications services also supports networking services. The more an enterprise centralizes resources into a data center, the more it can take advantage of load balancing capabilities that ensure each employee has the resources they need.
Build on BYOD
BYOD is an indicator of something broader happening in the market. It is the advent of the personal cloud era where smart mobile devices and their associated apps are becoming more and more prevalent in the enterprise communications space. People bring their tablets to work because they love using them and they feel they have more freedom and control over their own productivity and efficiency.
With the right approach to communications services, apps and infrastructure, enterprises can strengthen and build on the initiative their employees have already taken to extend and augment their work capabilities. They can turn “Bring Your Own Device” into an opportunity for employees and organizations to “Build Your Own Destiny”.
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-  Yankee Group, ‘Cloud Content: Mobilizing the Experience,’ May 2011 ↩