MSPmentor Blog
BYOD & BYOA: The Consumerization of Business IT Is Real Now

BYOD & BYOA: The Consumerization of Business IT Is Real Now

If you haven’t been following the debate on BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – you soon will.  The debate was inspired by the proliferation of $300 netbooks four years ago. Managed service providers were successful, for the most part, in keeping those consumer devices off the corporate network due to lack of security, manageability as well as raw horsepower.

Fast forward four years and the IT world is changing significantly. Connectivity is moving towards ubiquity, the cloud business model is real and the tablet was released in 2009 that forever changed the hardware landscape.

The tablet market is growing at a dizzying pace. Gartner is calling for 294 million units worldwide within four years, while Forrester is expecting 82 Million of them in the U.S. alone by 2015.  Apple commands almost 90% share, but more than 125 other tablets have come to market by mid-2011.

Some of the early limitations of tablets, like netbooks before them, included lack of security, manageability and compatibility.  Newer devices have improved and now offer PKI authentication certificates, biometrics and remote wipe capabilities making them acceptable to several IT departments.  One lesser known limitation that still exists is if the device is subject to a legal hold – the company is in a legal dispute of some kind - the end user will lose the device for an extended time.

Smaller companies, for the most part, do not have these policies and were the first to adopt BYOD.  The proliferation into industries such as healthcare has taken less than a year to happen.

The story isn’t just about managing secondary and tertiary devices from the consumer market.  Industry experts as well as futurists are calling for more devices, perhaps dozens per individual, gaining access to secure corporate and government networks.

What is BYOA?

The consumerization of IT isn’t just about hardware – we are at the beginning of another interesting trend:  BYOA – Bring Your Own App.  Some have predicted that the explosion of over 1 million apps may spell the end of the traditional desktop internet.  While that is likely premature, apps could provide some real advantages in the business world including cutting down on training time, allowing employees to feel more invested, and replacing costly software licensing with cheaper apps.

However, there are several issues with BOA including:
  • Compliance and regulations in several industries blocking adoption
  • Security of the data on public clouds and intermixed with consumer data
  • Portability of the output
  • Information fragmentation
We are already seeing examples of the where corporate communication has been fragmented into public clouds including personal email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and a growing number of other social media tools.  As other app categories get more popular, such as human resources, expense reporting and CRM, the Channel will be challenged with supporting this rapidly growing ecosystem.

Where MSPs Fit In

Managed Service Providers will be crucial in managing this complexity of dozens of devices and perhaps hundreds of apps per person.  New services and practices will evolve that focus on vendor management, security, compliance, data organization and protection in this increasingly fragmented world.  New revenue models will also evolve including micropayments by device and app – in many cases pennies per month.

To be effective in managing this potential chaos and, more importantly, profiting from it, Managed Service Providers will need to have built a solid business foundation with predictable and repeatable business workflows.  The adoption of a PSA (Professional Service Automation) and RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) toolset that can manage this ecosystem will be crucial in being successful.

Jay McBain is senior VP of strategy and community at Autotask Corp., developers of Autotask hosted IT business management software, the VARStreet family of advanced quoting and e-commerce tools and Taskfire, a hosted service desk and ticket management system. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.
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