March 4, 2013

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The GOOD Side of BYOD

BYOD –  “Bring Your Own Device” – appears to be the latest trending technology that has captured the attention of consumers and IT organizations equally. This technology initially drove IT organizations into a big denial mode, owing to the complexities in security and management.  The diverse combinations of devices to manage and monitor required a significant surge in overhead for IT departments. However, we have arrived in the era of Work 3.0, in which the smart phone is bound to be a compelling entity, with cloud and analytics being other significant elements.  These technologies are fundamentally bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we consume IT. That makes one ponder, will BYOD make its way into IT, or will it remain just a contentious technology?

First of all, what makes BYOD so compelling? The consumer today is addicted to his/her device(s). Consumers work seamlessly with a range of devices including smart phones, tablets, notebooks and laptops. Being able to exchange data among these devices and to synchronize them has become a very easy task through the use of  cloud storage services (SugarSync, DropBox, S3 Storage services, etc.), and the cost of these services is not high. Even third world countries are witnessing their urban population rely heavily on the web for social networking, exchange of data and for e-commerce of varying kinds. On top of this, IT is shifting to an on-demand delivery model where engineering service is also delivered on demand.  The entire complexities aside, BYOD has some advantages and point use cases. Last December, the good side of BYOD got a big shout-out from Intel. Intel suggested that BYOD is very much here to stay, and to look at industries that could completely benefit from BYOD, highlighting healthcare as a clear benefactor.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) platforms have evolved considerably over the past few years, now that device management across the enterprise and business functions is becoming a reality. Cloud-based mobile device management software has considerably eased the task of IT administrators for inventing new solutions.

Given the growing demand, there are a few industries which are extremely good candidates for BYOD. They are:

1.Healthcare:

Healthcare professionals across the board are getting used to a culture of using their own devices at work. Connecting to a hospital database for patient records, reports and references is a very convenient option. However, the healthcare institutions need to have a highly-qualified IT process and software in place to monitor each incoming device, and to have an automated means to scan the devices for malware every time they connect to a secure network.

The advantage of the healthcare field going BYOD is that professionals can act faster, have quick access to records, and it might help them collaborate with other professionals to make the right decisions at the right time.

2.On-Demand Engineering Services

Today, the IT industry is witnessing a paradigm shift in the way diverse talent and time available across GEOs is being utilized. On-demand test and engineering services make use of a talent pool around the globe to deliver instant, cost-effective services.  To improve the turnaround time for such services, most engineers prefer to use/bring their own devices in delivering the services. While the security risk of an unknown user/entity logging into the corporate network still exists, there is a definite market for BYOD devices. By the same logic, folks in sales or marketing in the IT industry can also benefit from the BYOD concept in taking custom solutions/demos and access to internal networks.

3.Retail and Hospitality Industry

The retail industry has already been witnessing a trend shift through the use of handhelds and tablets for orders, as POS and for payments. There has been a clear trend toward letting employees use their own devices for customer interactions, marketing and placing orders. There have been several innovations for smart phones, such as the “Square” device, which enables credit card payments on the go. Inventions like this will eliminate the need for a separate POS device, and the salesman who is the interface in the retail shop can easily process a payment, show a demo, and fetch data like the availability of stock using a handheld instead of accessing their centralized systems.

The same can also be said of the hospitality industry, where promotions, marketing, orders and payments can be expanded to user handhelds instead of requiring processing in one central place.

These are some handpicked use cases of BYOD where the advantages outweigh the security risks or concerns raised by the IT department.

The big debate that is going on, however, is whether an enterprise’s local IT can manage BYOD devices.  IBM recently set a trend on this front by banning its users from using DropBox on BYOD devices due to security compromises.  Cloud storage and databases have been the prime focus of hackers, and it is not surprising that enterprises do not want to be open to such attacks. For the same reason, enterprises might impose restrictions or even ban certain consumer services on BYOD devices, mostly delivered via the cloud. If a device is stolen, an enterprise might choose to wipe the data from the remote device.  However, such rigid rules will have to be broken through systematic security measures in the long run for BYOD to be a practicality. Security in BYOD should be the collective role of IT administrators, cloud providers and mobile device players. The IT world seems to be moving in the direction of a few primary drivers like cost optimization, a globally distributed workforce, on-demand delivery, etc., for which BYOD is a natural eventuality.  The primary driver for customers to adopt BYOD is flexibility. Without the desired flexibility, availability and 24x7 connectivity, BYOD cannot become a big success.  And in offering this flexibility lies the biggest challenge for IT administration.

References:

  1. www.intel.com

  2. www.vmworld.com

  3. www.techtarget.com