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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:23

Bringing BYOD to the masses could bring big benefits

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The bring-your-own-device bandwagon is rolling along quite nicely and could be heading to a point where the great mass of the workforce will be using smartphones in their work - with significant economic benefits.

Denis O'Shea CEO of Mobile Mentor, a company that provides mobile fleet management services to enterprise and government organisations, told iTWire: "We think the next phase in BYOD is where the device becomes a commodity. The prices will dome down really quickly.

"Our vision for 2020 is that you will be able to buy a perfectly capable device with touch screen, WiFi and the function you need for $20. So it won't matter whether the employee brings their own device of whether the employer provides it."

Once this happens O'Shea sees great potential for most of the workforce to using their smartphones to work more efficiently.

"Enterprises will be able to create forms and enterprise apps very quickly and cheaply and push them out to any device using HTML5. So they will work on any device with a browser," he predicts.

"We think there will be huge opportunities for gains in the economy as people on less that $20 an hour use BYOD with HTML5. This is how we mobilise the masses and get a step change in our economy.

"It could be people in supermarkets filling out forms, construction workers on the road, people in retail - all those little transactions and interactions that millions of people at the bottom of the pyramid make."

The idea of companies being able to quickly produce apps for mobile devices also has support from analysts. According to market research firm Ovum vendors are turning increasingly to mobile app management and mobile enterprise app platform services to help their customers get maximum business value from their BYOD or consumerised mobile policies.

These new services are designed to help a company develop and deploy, across multiple device types, mobile applications to specifically support the company's business aims, as opposed to standard apps available from an app store.
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However at present BYOD is very immature. O'Shea says the demand is still coming from employees - but increasingly from the lower ranks - and many organisations are failing to develop adequate policies to deal with demand, or deploy adequate security.

"We see more and more people bringing devices into the workplace and wanting to be connected...That demand will peak in January and February from all those given as Christmas presents."

He says that many enterprises are turning a blind eye. "They know staff are bringing in personal devices, but they are not securely connected, there is company information on them, users haven't signed a policy, the bill is not split.

"IT is slowly and reluctantly coming around to the idea of BYOD but is certainly not grabbing it by the horns and saying 'here is a way changing the organisation, of energising our employees'."

ISACA, a global organisation for IT professionals, recently published a survey of its Australian members. Thirty three percent of respondents said their organisation had no security policy in place for BYOD and 34 percent had neither remote wipe, password management nor encryption in place for employees' personal devices.

O'Shea predicts that, as BYOD matures and companies develop policies and procedures around BYOD the results will be at opposite ends of a spectrum: they will either delight or alienate their employees.

"We think it will be quite black and white. And companies will either attract or lose talent depending on how well they do BYOD.

"We have always known that a device like a smartphone is more personal than a PC. And a phone that you have bought with your own money is even more personal. So if your IT manager comes along and tells you what you can and can't do with it and starts managing it and controlling it, this is either going to put you off, or if they do it right it is going to motivate you and empower you."

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