By Dan Cunliffe, Head of Partners and Strategy, O2 Wholesale
It’s hardly news that the Bring Your Own Device or ‘BYOD’ trend is a big deal. Growing at an unprecedented rate, it’s changing the face of business thanks to a demand for increased accessibility. Forrester predicts that tablet use will triple to 905 million units by 2017 . With that in mind, it’s vital for savvy resellers to understand the nature of this trend and the importance of connectivity in its effective deployment, or risk missing out on a potentially lucrative market.
BYOD is only a very recent trend, but already businesses seem to understand the benefits of the approach. Of the IT channel organisations we questioned in a survey last year, 1 in 10 of their customers had already moved towards BYOD with 41% saying they were considering the move. Only 3% had looked into it but subsequently rejected the idea.
Customer awareness of broadband strain
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.
The financial benefits of BYOD are, however, pretty clear, with less hardware investment required and less resources to service. Evidence has also shown that organisations that allow for personal devices are more self-sufficient and productive. With user-driven technology rollouts, organisations can embrace the latest innovations more quickly, rather than waiting for the next corporate IT refresh. As shown by the above statistics and all the others we read about daily, companies that embrace the latest innovations are the most innovative and will attract and retain the best staff.
So how can the reseller take advantage of this revolution? 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 or VoIP. 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. If the broadband service delivered via the partner is unreliable or too costly, then the chances of a fruitful long term relationship with that end user are much reduced.
To roll out a successful BYOD strategy, resellers can advise on the right devices and applications that will benefit individual businesses. Each business has its own objectives of what it wants to achieve with BYOD; whether it be delivering more voice, mobile data or remote working services. Businesses are increasingly adopting a BYOD strategy in order to enable their workforce to operate more collaboratively, consolidate their devices (choosing one standard device for all employees) and unlock the benefits provided by fixed-mobile convergence.
However, it’s important to remember that none of these would be possible without a strong backbone of connectivity. Resellers must therefore pick their wholesale partner with care. Factors to consider will range from the reliability and consistency of the broadband product, to the quality of customer service which allows for fast response should issues occur. Equally crucial of course is to look for a wholesaler which will provide the reseller with not just a quality product, but a quality price, and the benefits of unlimited usage offerings should not be overlooked.
Scalability and speed of deployment should also be considered, as end user organisations will want the option of expansion without hindrance when more devices are connected to the wireless network. If broadband deployments are too slow and take longer than originally planned, then again that trust between the end customer and the reseller is at risk.
The case for selling broadband to end user organisations in the age not only of BYOD, but also of cloud computing, should be a compelling one, even in an uncertain economic climate. End user organisations want to keep up with the pace of change and, as outlined above, the benefits offered by BYOD are clear. For the reseller, broadband might well be the foot in the door with new customers looking to explore new ways of working, or old customers looking to take their working practices to the next level. Having received a quality broadband experience they can rely on, organisations will be far more likely to trust that provider to deliver other quality services, services which will have been driven by the transformational effect on working practices expected by BYOD. This is where resellers can really capitalise in the longer term.
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