So, the world is going all gung-ho about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). With CIOs and IT teams all over the world preparing to deal with the looming ‘monster’ that will make key corporate data a sitting duck for all the hackers, here is something to munch over. With so much talk about BYOD for enterprise use, in reality, all there is to it are a few emails here, and a few shared docs there, with some IMs thrown in.
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Employees still do only that much with their mobile devices as far as work is concerned. But hey, isn’t there a lot more to work than just a few boring emails or con calls? So, I herewith, take the opportunity (since no one gave it to me), to burst the BYOD bubble. BYOD is dead. I make this statement, defying all the predictions made by the Gartners and Gartner-like holy grails. And before I get crucified, let me explain. BYOD is on its last legs and will soon give way to more specialised enterprise devices that will truly propel enterprise work and transform industry workflows.
Rise of CYOD/EOD Hybrid
Sorry, for making it sound so very techie. CYOD is Choose your own Device while EOD is Enterprise Owned Device. Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 60 per cent of the employees across the world will use their own devices for work-related activities - a rather sizeable number by any account. However, equating BYOD to a broad set of ‘work-related activities’ is quite myopic, to say the least. Employees using their phones to check business emails do not make it a BYOD for the enterprise scenario. Ever since people started discussing BYOD, it has left out key enterprise scenarios and segments. For e.g. critical and heavy industries like manufacturing, mining, oil & gas, construction and even defence have always been dubious BYOD starters and will continue to be.
The nature of work, security threats and concerns (for a sector like defence), and the need for specialised apps and platforms, render personal mobile devices almost useless. These are sectors that are primarily driven by EODs, a trend which looks to continue even in the future. Even in regular office setups, it would most likely be the case of EOD, or a mix of EOD and CYOD, wherein CYOD is offered mainly only to the senior level executives, managers and key persons.
Specialised enterprise devices
And while we discuss BYOD, we should understand that there are only that many devices that any enterprise can support. With a new Android device being introduced almost every day, it is almost impossible for companies to support the entire range. There would still be a case when your device does not comply with the ‘company policies’ and hence is out of bounds. Apart from this, as mentioned earlier, BYOD is not applicable to critical and heavy industries that need specialised mobile devices.
A typical construction site sees men using specialised wireless communication systems (aka headsets, microphones, etc.) to communicate clearly amidst high frequency sounds of the heavy machines and equipments that dominate the site. Likewise, there are different communication systems that are used by different sectors depending upon their specific needs – military personnel use highly secure encrypted devices while mining workers need ruggedized all-terrain communication devices.
Going forth, these communication systems need to be transformed into specialised and comprehensive enterprise-focused mobile devices that help workers not just talk, but even send texts, share documents and watch videos. Imagine workers in a manufacturing assembly line can not only communicate, but also get live updates on inventory, check out help videos on enhanced packaging and share them instantly with co-workers.
Co-joining with IoTs
Ah! My favourite! The emerging star: IoTs. From smartglasses to exoskeletons, enterprises are poised to integrate wearables in a big way. This would further increase the need for sophisticated mobile devices that sync with these niche, enterprise-focused, wearable devices. Integrating a simple smartwatch with your regular Android is one thing, while integrating an advanced smartglass used in oil rigs is quite another. This would certainly need much more than your regular Android (or Apple) platform.
You knew I was coming to that, right? How can I not sympathise with my IT friends, caught in the mire of managing the Apples and Androids (and guess what, Windows, too!)? With the rise of ‘enterprise-focused’ solutions like Android for Work and the 100 enterprise apps that will hit markets from the Apple-IBM partnership, everyone is doing their best to woo the ‘damsel in distress.’ While no one knows what those 100 apps from Apple would be, Android has always been ‘enterprise-dicey’. Considering that we are now facing data stealing drones that can read your data by intercepting Wi-Fi signals, we know that we need more than just a few apps and security software.
What enterprises truly need is enhanced enterprise-grade security ecosystem for devices, complemented by a secure platform like - say a custom ROM along with features like restricted Wi-Fi connectivity, secure locking, default encryption and app management, tailored specifically for each industry and vertical. A task that is too high for a consumer-centric Android or Apple to achieve.
Finally, just take a moment and think about it. Why would a worker even think of going through the whole hassle of setting up his device to enterprise apps and restrictions, when he gets a pre-configured device that is as good as his work station?