An article I came across the other day on ChannelBiz UK posed the statement "BYOD is either a channel opportunity or disruptive hype". What was apparent from the article was that while there are still some differences in opinion as to whether BYOD is here to stay, most people seemed to believe it is. Moreover, the BYOD trend is being seen by some companies as a great opportunity in a post PC era world.
Take the example - your business has to manage a corporate fleet of smartphones while accommodating the increasing requests for employees to bring in their own personal devices. This was the case for US-based virtualisation company VMware, and they made a bold decision (highlighted in a recent Forbes article) "requiring" all employees to use their own smartphones - the only condition being that the device could support BlackBerry Enterprise Server or Exchange ActiveSync, which would allow IT staff to set basic security policies.
For VMware, it was a case of "eating their own dog food" - if they wanted to fully understand the challenges of BYOD from a business opportunity perspective, they needed to go all in. Their "requirement" was based on their decision to extend beyond desktop virtualisation to what they call "End User Computing" - extending their middleware platform to all end-user devices in the organisation, particularly smartphones and tablet. With the influx of tablets into the organisation threatening the place of desktops, the need to allow access to enterprise data regardless of the device is part of the BYOD Dilemma. For some companies like VMWare, this influx is opening up business opportunities.
The cost question
Beyond the key issue of security, one of the challenges of BYOD is cost. Allowing a broad range of devices to be brought into an organisation presents potential cost increases, related not just to security but also the IT costs of supporting and maintaining those devices with the latest applications across what is likely to be a broad range of OS.
Enterprise applications often tend to be processor-heavy, especially for smartphones and tablets. The resultant need to create light applications tailored for different OS across a range of devices can add to the cost of BYOD. So where's the opportunity? One solution is to leverage middleware platforms that allow you to deploy enterprise applications across multiple types of smartphones and tablets and their associated OS. These platforms have to be both secure and cost-effective - in other words, combining the best of both sides of the IT spectrum. Provide such a platform, and you've already solved a large and growing pain point for your client base.
Do you believe BYOD is a fad or hype? I personally believe it's neither, and that the question itself might even miss the point. What's clear is that the challenges of BYOD are going to open up opportunities for new and existing players in how they help companies with its effective management.
By Philip Parker, Optus Business Director of Product Marketing (Mobility). More from Philip on Twitter: @pguestp