Mobility in the workplace

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon is creating new opportunities in the enterprise space. What can solution providers bring to this segment?

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By  Manda Banda Published  June 13, 2012

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon is creating new opportunities in the enterprise space. What can solution providers bring to this segment?

A few years ago, employees were happy to receive cell phones, laptops and other handheld devices from their employers. Company-supplied BlackBerrys and laptops were coveted items, and they were generally more powerful than the comparable consumer electronics that employees had at home.

Thanks to Apple, all that has changed with iPhones and iPads, which are sleeker and superior to the typical corporate mobile handheld.

Today, millions of people want to use their personal mobile devices to conduct company business, and firms face the task of integrating workers’ own mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, with the company’s IT systems.

A recent study by Aberdeen Group revealed that 72% of organizations permitted staff to use their own devices for business purposes. When asked why these devices were permitted, 57% of those polled said it reduced costs (because the business did not pay for the device), and 51% cited improved productivity.

This demand for bring-yourown- device (BYOD) is creating opportunities for solution providers in the region. If you are a solution provider and have not yet considered the BYOD opportunity, now is the perfect time to venture into this sphere.

The ever-present connectivity of Wi-Fi is an opportunity. Before BYOD, laptops in the office were connected to the network via Ethernet. But when an employee uses an iPad, he or she needs Wi-Fi connectivity.

If wireless LAN (WLAN) coverage exists in an office, it often is designed for casual usage, and this provides a solution provider with the opportunity to significantly beef up the wireless network to handle dramatically increased user demand. This drives the deployment of high-performance 802.11n wireless LANs in enterprises. In particular, iPads have a lower Wi-Fi radio transmit power than laptops, which means that companies need to deploy more wireless access points to get the same wireless performance creating more opportunities for channel partners in the region.

Issues that might be relatively minor with corporate owned devices need major rethinking when employees bring their own handhelds and this is where solution providers need to come in. Channel partners can help their customers navigate this new territory.

Security remains a major concern for most enterprises. Mobile device management solutions, such as MobileIron, help enterprises manage mobile devices and security, with solution providers providing consulting expertise.

Although many firms in the region are facing challenges when it comes to implementing a BYOD initiative, one thing that is clear is that these devices are helping to drive creativity and increase productivity.

With costs coming down, not just for the devices, but connectivity and also for managing these devices, this is another selling point for solution providers to ponder.

The demand for BYOD is driving demand across diverse industries from across all sectors of the economy. A VDC Research study in 2011 in the US reported that healthcare organisations had the highest percentage of companies allowing employee-owned smartphones of any market segment, while field mobility firms had the least.

BYOD is garnering momentum in the region and it is a market on an upward trajectory. Companies are still struggling to accommodate their employees who love the convenience of their smartphones and tablets. For solution providers, particularly in the Middle East region, where the mobile devices growth is among the highest globally, they would do well to make mobility an area of expertise and specialisation.

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