Guest Column | September 23, 2013

Enterprise BYOD Has Benefits — If You Overcome Challenges

By: Kyp Walls, director of product management, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America

Not long ago, the technology provided by employers to their workers was equal to  — if not more advanced than —what they had at home. Today, with the widespread use of tablets and smartphones, the inverse is true; personal technology is often more advanced than what is available at work. As a result, some employees feel as if they are using substandard technology on the job.

This phenomenon is a major driver in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. Over the last few years, often driven by c-suite desire to use the latest and greatest technologies, BYOD has taken root.

At first glance, the benefits of BYOD are immediately apparent. The ability to reduce costs associated with the purchase of computers, phones and tablets, is attractive. In the BYOD scenario, employees are often responsible for data plans associated with their mobile broadband connections, another benefit to the employer. Many have also claimed that morale and productivity increase when employees use the devices they want versus the company-issued option.

While there appear to be benefits associated with BYOD, it takes little effort to uncover potential drawbacks. The primary issues fall under the categories of IT support, security, and engineering.

For IT managers, the immediate issue associated with BYOD is increased complexity. IT staffs accustomed to servicing a limited number of devices, the vast majority of which were on a single OS, are faced with the management of numerous devices and operating systems in a BYOD environment. The use of multiple OSs can also lead to application complexity, with different apps —depending on the OSs being used —being required to access enterprise resources. If apps are being created internally, the developers are also faced with the constant pace of mobile OS upgrades. While web-based applications can help alleviate this, they tend to compromise performance and are useless in disconnected mode, like most air travel or for a surprisingly high number of in-building locations.  When facing these challenges, it becomes increasingly difficult for IT to ensure a quality end user experience.

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