How to thrive in the era of BYOD

Although the signs are largely positive, organisations are still working out how BYOD will impact them, says Chris Kozup. Businesses need to understand the usage models behind the trend to truly tame it.

Tags: Aruba Networks
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How to thrive in the era of BYOD Chris Kozup is senior director of marketing, EMEA, Aruba Networks.
By  Chris Kozup Published  August 28, 2012

While there has been a lot of discussion on the Bring Your Own Device trend, it’s still relatively early to assess the actual impact BYOD is having on organisations. While the concept of Bring Your Own Device is based on individuals having the freedom to use their computing device of choice – the business and IT ramifications are much broader. From a business perspective, the impact of consumer technology on business process has never been greater. Leaders and laggards will be defined by how well each incorporates the use of consumer technologies to transform internal and external communications, supply chains, talent sourcing and retention, innovation and product development. From an IT perspective, it’s no longer enough just to keep up – IT is being asked to lead.

IT visionaries are not only those who understand technology trends but those who are successful in using them to gain competitive advantage. In the area of BYOD, this means more than keeping track of the latest mobile devices to hit the market. It means integrating devices, applications, and users in a way that allows an improvement in existing processes. To date, the majority of realised benefits from BYOD come in the area of cost savings. But increasingly, we are seeing savvy organisations enable new applications or ways of working that were previously not possible.

The promise of cost savings has been enough to lure many organisations into embracing BYOD; especially in times of shrinking IT budgets. Firstly, the BYOD phenomenon is shaking up the winners and losers in the device landscape. The Windows-Intel dominance that has ruled the end user computing market for the past 30 years is in rapid decline. In fact, Apple iOS and Google Android now account for approximately 50% of all operating systems shipped for end user computing devices. The traditional view of the desktop has been changed forever and IT must now reassess how budgets – previously spent on Windows-Intel devices – can be reallocated.

A recent Aruba Networks survey, BYOD in Europe, Middle East and Africa: An Overview of Adoption, Challenges and Trends surveyed 773 companies to find that while 92% of companies still purchase laptops for employees, only 70% purchase smartphones and an even lower 51% purchase any kind of tablet device. This data illustrates two things – firstly not every organisation has completely warmed up to BYOD (although 69% of organisations in EMEA already allow some form of BYOD today). Secondly, and perhaps more important, is the fact that organisations are shifting the cost liability for mobile devices from the business to the individual. IT is recognising that end users are willing to pay for the convenience of using their own device. In general, corporations still offer employees the option of having a corporate issued laptop. However, companies can save money by allowing employees to “opt out” of the corporate issued devices to bring their own.

The BYOD trend is also driving cost savings in the area of infrastructure investment. Some investment in building a robust wireless network is required. The Aruba Networks BYOD survey found that 35% of organisations in EMEA expect to improve coverage and capacity of their wireless network to support BYOD initiatives. Furthermore, 53% of organisations indicated they anticipate an increase in wireless investment in the coming year. However, these incremental investments pale relative to the savings that organisations can realise when evolving their network design from a legacy switched data network to a mobility-centric architecture.

More specifically, as users shift their device preferences from desktops, laptops and desk phones – all typically connected to the network via an Ethernet cable – towards smartphones and tablets – which don’t even have the possibility of connecting to Ethernet – the need for investment in wired technologies decreases dramatically. Aruba Networks has seen examples of companies saving up to 50% of their network expenditure based on a reduction in Ethernet switch ports. These savings can be used to augment wireless coverage, but also to contribute to other higher priority projects.
Still, while cost savings are important, the real value of a comprehensive BYOD strategy lies in the transformation of business process. Some early examples of interesting use cases for BYOD are emerging as organisations find their way.

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