BYO – Problem?

nandf_news_Dan-Cunliffe_01.jpgTrends

As new devices fly into businesses at rate of knots what does this mean for the future? How can we expect this trend to impact our businesses as new devices come into the market? Dan Cunliffe, Head of Partners and Strategy, O2 Wholesale discussed these trends “Like many trends, BYOD appears to have sprung up almost overnight, forcing organisations to adapt quickly. Ovum estimates that 51.7% of employees are now using a personal device to manage data and IT departments are working to ensure many popular work applications can be accessed easily from mobile devices as a result. Naturally, allowing devices to be used outside of the safety of the business opens up the infrastructure to an increased level of risk, but these fears are easily quelled with the right security policies and guidelines in place.

More worrying perhaps is that while many UK organisations appear open to adopting new technology trends, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the strains they put on the broadband infrastructure. In the same survey we ran last year, only 46% of resellers said that customers are aware of the strain exerted on bandwidth caused by cloud computing, BYOD and virtualisation, while 32% are unaware. “

Anthony Foy, CEO of Workshare added “Recent research shows how BYOD has solidified its standing as the workplace norm, with 80 percent of respondents using their own devices for work. Employees in professional services (92 percent), financial services (86 percent), and healthcare (84 percent) sectors report the highest BYOD use. Companies ranging from 200 to 2,000 plus employees, reported BYOD use at over 50 percent!!!”

Robin Hayman, Director of Marketing & Product Management at SpliceCom, commented “By ‘inviting’ employees to use their own Smart Phones and Tablets in the workplace (or at the very least not stopping them doing so), the BYOD movement has unwittingly started what will eventually turn out to be nothing short of a telecoms revolution – the death of the desktop system phone. Whilst PC based IP Softphones have become commonplace in the Call Centre, the uptake for general everyday business use has been less than spectacular, with the sole exception of homeworkers.”

Rene Hendrikse, VP EMEA, iPass says “On the surface, BYOD is a treat for company IT departments. But underneath, there is a potential trapdoor to securing BYOD success: hidden network access costs, where a binge of unexpected data usage can cost businesses big. And with greater numbers of corporate applications moving to the cloud each day, mobile is rapidly becoming the reference architecture for how employees interact with the enterprise network. The company “laptop” and “phone” is quickly being replaced with newer and often personally owned devices that remain with mobile workers all day long. While these devices are cheap, networks charges are expensive and have led more mobile workers to experience bill shock. Monthly data roaming bills are likely to raise further, so for businesses that have to pay the workforce’s roaming bill, excessively high bills can vastly swell operating costs.”

IT Headaches: 

Much has been made of the enterprise solutions that now encompass a rigorous BYOD solution to secure personal mobiles at the top end of the market. But what about everyone else? Most businesses are letting devices into their organisation with no controls or strategy in place to manage them.

Sean Huggett, Voyager Networks managing director Commented “IT managers are now faced with the decision of whether they incorporate BYOD fully, or issue corporate standard devices”, says Huggett. “What mobile devices should they choose and will they allow their critical apps to work? Savings from less upgrades by adopting BYOD are attractive of course, but multiple devices are obviously harder to manage. Security is also proving an issue, with the prevention of data leakage being a major priority”.

So how should managers consider the integration of BYOD into their organisation? Huggett suggests adopting a top-down approach, incorporating this aspect of IT into the business strategy: “We’d recommend devising a mobility strategy, which looks at the aims and objectives of the organisation. A road map is also absolutely essential as a foundation for the development of IT policies surrounding mobile devices”.

Alexis Argent, founder and director, 4Gon Solutions commented on whether IT departments have caught up with the trend “In the enterprise sector, yes, others not so much. Having said that, it’s an on-going challenge for everyone, much as you can try to lock everything down, it’s just the nature of wireless compared to cable, such as Cat 5 or fibre, that it can be tapped via the air. Wireless signals also go out of the building and into public space, making the company network potentially accessible from outside.

This is a relatively new problem, and the deployment of larger and larger networks will only mean more vulnerabilities.

Clearly, IT departments are installing wireless and allowing people to put their own devices on it, the issue is that it’s third party equipment of varying quality and security. As such, particularly at the enterprise level, businesses are looking at locking down devices via software on the device, or via software that locks down and monitors the network.”

Alison Salas, Marketing Manager at Digicomm commented on whether she thought IT departments has caught up with the BYOD trend, “It’s a mixed bag but on the whole no they haven’t and are sticking their heads in the sand. Until fairly recently businesses were unconvinced of the value of BYOD but it is now seen as a basic tool, without which a firm will struggle to thrive. BYOD increases employee flexibility and productivity, as well as job satisfaction.”

Cedric Martin, Architect & Mobility Specialist, Acronis says “Despite Gartner predicting that about half of the world’s companies will have a BYOD programme by 2017, 60% of companies still don’t have a BYOD policy in place. Those who currently have a policy in place have gotten to grips with mobile device management but are still yet to focus on the real issue mobile file management (MFM), which is controlling the movement of corporate data between a various devices.

ian-kilpatrick-wickhill041Ian Kilpatrick thinks that many IT departments are taking the wrong approach, “IT departments are chasing the tail of BYOD. Many don’t recognise it’s the tail they’re chasing. When they catch it, they will think they have dealt with their BYOD problem, but that’s because they have caught up with an element of the BYOD issue they are experiencing today. Given the changes that are taking place, BYOD is not an end-point, it’s an ongoing journey.”

BYO-App

Beatrice Piquer-Durand, VP Marketing at Ipanema Technologies commented on other avenues of risk to consider when considering BYOD, “If businesses are (perhaps reluctantly) embracing BYOD, then they’re also opening the doors to BYOD’s rather irksome cousin – BYOA. The ‘bring your own application’ trend is one which will only become more popular, and IT managers need to be on the ball to manage the effects. If an employee is using their personal mobile and laptop in the workplace, then they’re also introducing a host of unmanaged apps to the corporate network. Gartner notes that 70% of employees using their own device have sourced their own apps to do the job.

As the number of applications running across the network increases, more stress is placed on the available bandwidth. If there isn’t enough bandwidth readily available, then certain business-critical applications are liable to falter, or crash completely. This is where IT managers need to ensure they’re prioritising the relevant applications, to guarantee their performance ahead of others. That way, even if available bandwidth is more limited than normal, companies can be reassured that it will be allocated to the business-critical apps, and not by employees streaming Spotify

Piquer-Durand continued “The first step is ensuring transparency across the business’ network. IT managers need to have a clear idea of who’s connecting to the company network, when they’re connecting, and what type of data is being accessed during that session. Of course, that’s easier said than done. We recently conducted a survey (KillerApps 2013) of 650 CIOs and IT decision makers, and found that there was a surprising level of ignorance about what was happening across the network. Almost a third (32%) didn’t know the number of applications running across their network, which is worrying. “

Making Margin

The question on everybody’s lips is ‘How do I make money from this growing trend?’ Should the Channel be diving in with both feet? Rene Hendrikse, VP EMEA at iPass thinks so, “For the Channel, provisioning the enterprise with tools that bridge the gap between the BYOD woes of businesses and the solutions that modern employees are demanding will provide a significant new revenue stream. With Wi-Fi as a service accounting for 46% of web traffic by 2015 and 85 per cent of mobile workers reporting they want their companies to provide a Wi-Fi access plan for out-of-office use, resellers can benefit from tapping into a rapidly growing market.

By addressing this deficit, the Channel has the power to keep mobile workers productive and efficient by providing seamless access to critical data and rich applications on Wi-Fi as a complement to cellular data plans. Moreover, as these networks are generally subscription based, there is further opportunity for the channel to generate reoccurring revenues.

Hendrikse continued “Today, the typical mobile employee uses 3.5 devices ranging from laptops, netbooks, smartphones and tablets, up from 2.7 in 2011. This growth tells us that many businesses will be approaching resellers to look for solutions which can enable them to make the most out of all these devices without negatively impacting on costs. By offering a BYON service, the channel can provide businesses with that last piece of the puzzle, allowing a truly free BYOD environment.”

Ian Kilpatrick, Chairman of VAD Wick Hill Group added his thoughts “For the channel, BYOD presents a great opportunity, however, there needs to be a movement away from the traditional go-to-market strategy, which for decades has been focused entirely on hardware. Instead, the channel needs to shift towards having a services mind-set and look at ways to make their margins here.

The opportunity for the channel is to talk to people about where the market is going, not where the market has been. Many of the solutions out there today deal with the problems of where the market has been.

Many of the solutions are practical. They are point solutions for point problems that people are experiencing today. But already there are other problems. For example emerging new mobile devices such as Google Glass, wristcams and the multiple mobile device operating system Tizen. Kilpatrick continued “And all this is before the impact of the new wireless standard 802.11ac, which will rapidly accelerate the move to wireless and the proliferation of mobile devices.”

Cedric Martin, Architect & Mobility Specialist, Acronis says “Resellers have the opportunity here to educate the enterprise on the risks that public clouds and BYOD bring to their business. Some may think that if businesses aren’t placing emphasis on BYOD, then perhaps channel mobility efforts would fall on deaf ears. But, as businesses recognise the growing security risks of unprotected and unsanctioned BYOD activity, then BYOD and mobility solutions will be a welcome addition to channel models.”

Andy Chrismas, Cloud Sales Manager at Node4 says “The opportunities are still there for providers who pride themselves on educating and giving value to their customers. Ultimately it’s about being a thought leader and early adopter of BYOD and then ensuring that you are there at every stage of your customer’s journey. This will not only result in more satisfied and engaged customers but will also see channel partners gain extensive knowledge that will prove invaluable for when they roll these prime services out to future customers.

The channel will also be required to help business decision-makers identify BYOD needs, opportunities and strategies and then provide the on-going management and support, post-implementation, that ensures consistent application of BYOD policies. “

Future Proofing

Ian Kilpatrick comented earlier that he thought BYOD was more of a continuing evolution rather than something you can just solve. BYOD must be looked at from a ‘what is coming’ aspect rather than ‘what is here’. So where should we be looking next for the wave of devices?

John Rees, Content Guru Commercial Director states “Trying to anticipate what the next generation of devices might look like is somewhat like trying to guess the results of the lottery, but based on our experience of the market we can make some predictions.

Recently, we have seen video communication gain increasing attention and become a hot topic in the technology sector, aided in part by the popularity of consumer applications like Skype and Facetime. As video has gained momentum as a popular means of communication, an increasing number of businesses have begun to look for potential applications of the technology in the workplace.”

Chrismas says “Whilst the PC market is in decline there has been a strong growth in app-driven mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets.

With remote working becoming an essential part of everyday business life and so many of the applications we take for granted being delivered in a virtualised form from the cloud, through apps or browsers, the next logical step would be for greater integration between devices . The possibility of all of these systems and smart devices pooling and sharing information and then delivering it to the user while on the move could prove invaluable.”

Graham Fry, Managing Director Avsnet commented “Video conferencing on mobile devices is driving multiple sized devices from Apple and Android that will continue to accelerate BYOD bringing more traditionally consumer-only devices into the corporate network.

Then there is Microsoft – Windows 8 still has the potential to expand in the tablet market, but adoption rates are painfully low but it may benefit from wider adoption of Lync and the advanced functionality in 2013.”

Briscoe gave his opinion, “The market is in transition and we are seeing changes in device preferences. Apple is still a dominating force but other smartphones are making tremendous inroads – especially those produced by Samsung. Chromebooks and hybrid devices, which merge Android and Windows 8 are also on the horizon. We are seeing more engagement with tablets of all shapes and sizes too and a steady interest in the creation of ultra-mobiles – otherwise known as pen computers.

What this all means is that there’s a lot of choice in the market in terms of what kind of devices people can use for communicating – and more and more consumers are making the most of their options. From an IT angle, however, this presents the challenge of having to learn about new and varied devices when it comes to offering BYOD programmes. The only issue that remains the same is that a lot of these devices will be packed with data, and therefore the need to safeguard it remains a constant bane to businesses.”

Ed Says…

So how can the reseller take advantage of this trend? Embracing BYOD is undoubtedly a strategic decision that can prove to be a lucrative one for the reseller. The remote working culture it can enable ultimately means more related services can be sold, whether that is cloud, VoIP, or something else. However none of this is possible without an organisation having access to reliable and consistent connectivity across fixed and mobile. If a reseller can provide this to the end user then they are very well placed to be seen as a trusted partner for the delivery of further services. As personal devices, tools and apps become more ingrained in the workplace, businesses will need to evolve and ensure that the right polices and technologies are in place to safeguard their data and employees. While also providing people with the agility they need to collaborate and innovate using their everyday tools, no matter what device they’re using.

 

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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