Channel face-off: BYOD

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This article appeared in the August issue of CRN magazine.

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Channel face-off: BYOD

It’s fairly safe to say the horse has well and truly bolted when it comes to the onslaught of mobile devices now infiltrating organisations.

Aside from the convenience of being able to work with the same device that they use at home, workers are increasingly warming to the more immediate online access as well as the bulging apps ecosystems underpinning the various mobile platforms.

If you’re able to log into Twitter or Facebook or use Google Maps to guide you to a bar or restaurant why would you accept less convenience and functionality at work? The tech industry and its customers therefore appear to have resigned themselves to the fact that BYOD is here to stay.

Now they’re looking for solutions to not only smooth the transition but also garner the maximum benefit from the trend. But what does BYOD mean for the channel?

On the one hand we have the argument that the challenges presented by BYOD create a whole new layer of complexity in which resellers can position themselves as experts in resolving. Confused customers usually translates into services opportunities.

On the other hand – and this perspective has, to date, tended to be drowned out by all of the hype and excitement bubbling around the mobility space – BYOD carries with it the risk of denying partners business opportunities by isolating them from their customers.

For one thing, the resellers lose the sale of the actual device, while the support for it is typically handled by another party. After all, a staff member who buys their smartphone from the local Telstra shop is likely to go back there if there is a problem with the device.

We have two of Australia’s most respected and experienced channel entrepreneuers – Mark Kalmus from Southern Cross Computer Systems, and Sydney Borg from PCS Australia – put the case for and against BYOD.

Sydney Borg, managing director, PCS Australia

In my opinion BYOD flies in the face of everything the reseller stands for. It also flies in the face of everything hardware manufacturers have preached to us for as many years. That is, to have our clients standardise on a single brand of hardware; to develop an SOE (standard operating environment) thereby making management of all devices and support simple. The ability to easily identify breaches of companies’ SOE and fix the issues is now out the window.

Introducing a myriad of devices and platforms will only cause a nightmare not just now but progressively as the proliferation increases within the company. The IT department within an organisation will have to increase just to handle the daily issues that will surely come up.

From the reseller’s point of view, we lose all control of hardware sales and of course the revenue stream that went along with it. We will also lose our close relationship with the manufacturers as our purchasing reduces to a point where they may not require us.

The same applies to all other products within the IT realm. Let’s not forget the service centre which most of us have developed to offer our customers another layer of support. It will also diminish as we no longer control the hardware being implemented and staff will increasingly take their device to wherever they purchased it from.

And BYOD trends will make it harder to be “green”. An organisation will no longer be able to plan and replenish its equipment to the new energy efficient hardware available. Security is major issue too.

It will take a lot of time and work to ensure an organisation is safe from any removal of information through a personal device granted company-wide access. Points to consider are staff leaving or being dismissed. The company really does not have any right or ability to ensure all company details, log-ons etc are wiped from the device.

Lost equipment cannot be remotely wiped through new security apps available. Damaged personal devices do not mean the staff will immediately replace them and continue working. This is a stark difference from the existing system where they are given a replacement to ensure their productivity is maintained.

If we, the reseller, lose control of the equipment going in then we lose control of the client.

Mark Kalmus, managing director, Southern Cross Computer Systems

Like it or not, technology-savvy users are empowering themselves to make technology solution decisions. IT management strategies now need to include ways to enable core business and legacy systems to co-exist more effectively with downloaded apps from the cloud.

For vendors and integrators, the game will be won by solutions that combine innovation in both “user-appeal” and “CIO appeal”; innovation in functionality and usability, as well as innovation in integration.

The rise of the “2.0” platform is often referred to as the “consumerisation” of IT, with innovations incubated in the consumer realm and on the internet before they become relevant to the enterprise sector. The label consumerisation, however, understates the importance of the proliferation of devices, solutions and data for any private or public-sector organisation.

The key driver is the increased capacity of individuals as both private consumers and enterprise employees to choose devices and solutions from the market to meet their needs.

In times gone by “work” was done using devices owned by the IT department, connected by a wire and via secure authentication to the IT department’s network, using corporate applications and office productivity tools provided by the IT department to create and manipulate data stored on servers in the IT department.

Employees can now do work using personally chosen devices to access software-as-a-service applications in the cloud using high-bandwidth wireless communication. Data is growing hugely in volume due to the rise of multimedia, but more importantly it is also increasingly flowing into and out of organisations via diverse channels and in diverse ways

In addition, the pace of innovation is accelerating due to the force created by devices and solutions for the consumer market. These innovations have surprised enterprise CIOs and vendors in terms of the speed with which they have become credible solutions in an enterprise context, offering compelling benefits compared to existing in-house and traditional IT solution alternatives.

The accelerating pace of innovation is a factor of the intuitive functionality of the devices and solutions, combined with the ease with which they can be discovered. The consumer-grade usability and relevance of the new wave of solutions means they are often better, faster and cheaper for a wide range of uses than thei rmore traditional enterprise-grade counterparts. Many people now travel with multiple devices which provide a solution to meet both work and personal needs.

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