- BYOD should be seen as an opportunity to boost worker efficiency.
- BYOD creates security challenges, but there are effective MDM solutions available.
2013 should be the year when the cloud stops being a buzz word and starts to gain real traction, particularly for IP voice and unified communications (UC) services. The ‘cloud’ is an amorphous and much abused term, but despite its presence on the homepage of every telecoms provider in Europe, take-up of fully hosted voice and UC solutions has been slower than the hype would suggest. Persuading enterprises to part with their PBX is challenging. However, as fully hosted MS Lync solutions start to be offered by the majority of major telcos across Europe, alongside hosted Cisco, Avaya and Mitel-based solutions, and the case studies begin to emerge, enterprises should now have enough confidence to consider ‘taking the plunge.’ A hosted solution will not suit all businesses and virtualisation will be preferable for many over a truly cloud solution, but the overall need for a CPE-based PBX has all but been eliminated for the majority of business customers.
Perhaps a more important hope for 2013 is that enterprises will begin to see ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) as an opportunity rather than a threat. There can no longer be any doubt that the mobile device is king. 2012 also added tablet devices to the mix, and in January 2013, there will a huge number of new Nexus 7s and iPads appearing in offices all over Europe, the U.S. and the rest of the world. According to the latest data from e-retailer community body IMRG, in the UK, 56% of the population has access to a smartphone and a staggering 21% of the population already has access to a tablet device. The demographics show that more than 50% of the owners of these devices are in the 25-to-44 age bracket. Resistance is now well and truly futile. Young and incoming workers expect to use a tablet and a smartphone, whilst the generation of workers set to be the next batch of senior employees have become accustomed to these devices.
So, how should enterprises react to the BYOD phenomenon? The first reactions should be to welcome it. Employees are essentially providing their own mobile working solutions. The average smartphone can now accommodate almost all UC functionality and collaboration tools through software such as mobile office solutions. The second thing enterprises should do is focus on security. Within a fixed office environment, the security concerns of the cloud are manageable, and whilst hugely important, they should not provide a barrier to adoption. With mobile devices, the risk is higher. This is where the cloud again can help provide the solution. Device-based clients offer a lot of advantages, but cloud-based MDM solutions can offer a more workable overall solution. Mobile operators such as Vodafone, Orange, Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom have come to the market with attractive solutions during 2012, and the rate of development is set to increase. The conversation about BYOD is one that all enterprises should seek to have with their mobile providers during 2013. Happy New Year!