Industry, enterprises warm to BYO device

Mike Sapien/Ovum
31 Oct 2011

The Ovum team attended the recent CTIA Enterprise & Applications conference in San Diego, where one of the most prevalent enterprise themes was bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

Areas for discussion included the features and software on the devices, tactics to allow the management of mobile devices [for] personal and business use, and the integration of the mobile device into the enterprise PBX.

In many cases the BYOD feature announced, or the support or management for it, was limited in some manner. In many the announcement was premature, with availability expected towards the end of 2011. Nonetheless, it is clear that the flurry of announcements indicates an industry and customer trend towards supporting BYOD in the near future, and it was encouraging to see many multi-carrier solutions.

Ovum believes that that BYOD is going to become more common in 2012, and that it will have to include support for the “many-to-many-to-many” aspect (devices-carriers-applications) of mobile services. Unfortunately, most of the services announced fell short of fulfilling this aspect of a robust BYOD offer.

With so many mobile OS and device platforms within the industry, and more importantly within the employee base, BYOD programs and related management systems will need to support a broad range of devices.

Most of the announcements at CTIA were focused on providing BYOD support for the Android OS platform, which most enterprise customers would find limiting. Although the Android OS platform is one of the fastest growing, it still represents a small portion of today’s enterprise mobile device base. It is going to be difficult for most enterprise customers to support BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows-based devices, and the increasing number of employees using tablets will make this even more of a challenge.

Although the Android OS ecosystem has plenty of developers and OEMs that could provide increasing alternatives for BYOD, there will be limited acceptance for BYOD solutions that do not offer wide-ranging device support.

There were many emerging solutions to managing mobile applications, and it was interesting to see the different models and approaches to the issue. It seems so much of this requirement is still emerging that it may be a while before we see what will be the dominant model, especially given the variety of individual enterprise customer requirements and employee preferences.

Corporate policy may be harder to define than simple application comparisons and ratings. The good news for the industry is that there is recognition that mobile applications have to be managed as well as devices. Examples of this include Verizon’s application store for business and AT&T’s Toggle service, both of which have application management planned for later in 2011. LG, 3LM, and VMWare also had some different approaches to dual persona models, and these developments represent a major shift in the overall approach to managed mobility.

There are relatively few strong examples of existing BYOD programs, and it is too early for most enterprise customers to fully accept the idea. The success of BYOD programs will require internal corporate policy development, and employees will have to understand and accept new policies. There is still some major work to be done to support and foster BYOD programs, and operators and mobile device management (MDM) suppliers will need to keep up with ever-changing demand.

In the long term the adoption of BYOD may be inevitable, but it will still take some time to define the required technical support, the breadth of device support, and application approach. Ovum believes, though, that corporate policy and employee acceptance are key to a BYOD program’s overall success.

Original article: Bring-your-own-device a key theme at CTIA

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