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BYOD is not BAD

June 13, 2013 • Opinion

Given the speed at which the connected lifestyle has been adopted in the consumer market, the concept of bring your own devices (BYOD) has become more liberally accepted in the workplace. Yet, this should not be viewed as bringing any device (BAD) into the corporate environment.

Paulo Ferreira, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa (image: Samsung)

By and large, South African companies are being more flexible and allowing employees to use their own mobile devices at work. This has resulted in companies having to stem the tide of having multiple devices running a variety of operating systems entering their network raising all sorts of security, management, efficiency, and integration concerns.

The Android platform has been gaining significant market share over its competitors. But its biggest appeal, the number of manufacturers supporting it on their devices, is also become arguably one of its biggest corporate challenges.

This abundance of mobile devices, all running their own variant of Android, is raising concerns about fragmentation. Each manufacturer has implemented some unique tweaks and customisations to the platform that offers a plethora of choices to consumers. However, fewer have addressed the Corporate IT criteria for acceptable end-user computing device characteristics. This makes it difficult to ensure that any device entering the corporate network is enterprise-ready and can integrate smoothly with existing security and management protocols and systems.

As comfort levels have increased around BYOD, decision-makers are needed to becoming more selective of the devices they allow into the company. The next phase of BYOD is one that will see a push towards Android that has been designed to be ready for enterprise networks. The mobile phone manufacturer who is in a position to offer this by giving IT departments the ability to securely manage these devices will be the one that will see a bigger adoption of its products.

The manufacturer must also be in a position to assist the company in addressing the challenges around BYOD in the corporate environment. These can range from the aforementioned security compliancy but can also include addressing issues around connectivity and collaboration, line of business applications, virtualisation, and providing support for productivity solutions such as unified communications.

Further, it is essential for the manufacturer to be in a position to work with its partners to ensure that their solutions are also certified enterprise-compatible to add even more value for a company. But this relationship needs to extend beyond hardware. The device manufacturer also needs to be able to partner with a solution provider that supports the local development of mobile apps. These apps are specifically designed to enhance the productivity of mobile workers. An example of this is providing mobile compatibility to proven business solutions such as the popular accounting and financial solution, Sage Pastel.

The concept of BYOD is here to stay but it needs to be supported in a way that offers a consistent Android or other platforms to manage and be interoperable enough to work on all enterprise-class solutions. This will see companies recommending their employees purchase devices from the manufacturer that is able to provide this experience. It further allows Corporate IT departments to standardise and offer a pragmatic and balanced device selection guideline for the end-users.

When it comes time to select a solutions provider that can offer these services, companies need to also consider the range of product offerings available that could make the integration process into its systems more manageable. Considerations include the different form factors of devices and the need of the user to consume or create content.

Ultimately, it is about whether CIOs allow their environments to try and accommodate every mobile platform in the market or choose to align with those devices that are truly ready for the enterprise. Giving these decision-makers the peace of mind that mobile devices are ready for managed security lies at the heart of the matter.

It will be the manufacturer that offers this as a standard value proposition that will become successful in this next evolution of BYOD.

Paulo Ferreira, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa

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