BYOD Meets Mobile Device Management: A Gift for VARs, MSPs
BYOD (bring your own device) to work is an undeniable trend. Consumers are racing to pre-order the iPhone 4s. Employees are carrying their own devices — iPad 2, Galaxy Tablet, Motorola Xoom, etc. — into the office. What’s the net effect for VARs and MSPs everywhere? The answer: Customers have a desperate need for mobile device management (MDM). That’s where you enter the picture.
Have you seen this ad?:
It’s a good laugh but really not too far off from reality. People are bringing their personal devices into work more than ever. Some use them for work, others use them during the day for stock tickers, weather tablets, TVs — you know, productivity tools. Ha! That intersection of device use and device ownership is where the challenges — and the real opportunities for VARs and MSPs — reside.
People are convinced they can be more productive and more effective on the job using those new devices. In many cases that’s true, but here’s the gift to VARs and MSPs everywhere: Those mobile devices were purchased and put into use in the enterprise without IT having to spend precious IT budget dollars to purchase them, and without a negative impact to IT outsourcing budgets.
Challenges and Opportunities
Imagine the impact on IT budgets everywhere if companies were assuming the burden of purchasing those devices ; something else from the budget would get cut — perhaps a critical server upgrade, for instance.
So this consumerization… this wave of personal mobile devices invading business networks presents a fantastic opportunity and fantastic challenge:
- Opportunity: New tech gets used inside the business, but the employees are sharing the cost.
- Challenge: However, if a personal device has business data or accesses business resources, that device just became risk, a backdoor, a potential nightmare depending on the data security requirements for the enterprise.
Your Focus: Mobile Device Management (MDM)
That’s why BYOD — bring your own device to work — is an opportunity and a challenge. Employee-owned devices allow employers to avoid some acquisition costs. But BYOD also creates a burden and a responsibility — or rather, an opportunity — for IT to manage those devices. To put it another way, for VARs and MSPs the gift of BYOD is near zero impact on device acquisition and a revenue opportunity for mobile device management (MDM).
The management burden for the devices has historically been a challenge. How do they become managed devices? Why should users let IT manage them? There are a few ways this could play out in terms of solving the BYOD management acceptance.
- If the company pays for the broadband or cellular service plan on the device then IT gets to manage the device. If IT doesn’t manage the device, then the employee’s expense doesn’t get approved.
- A company’s Acceptable Computer Use Policy can be amended to include ANY device used to access corporate data.
- Modified Honors system: This works especially well for the less tech savvy. If users want help, they need to let IT manage the device (i.e., keep the remote monitoring and management app installed). Otherwise users are on their own.
There are, of course, all kinds of ways to drive acceptance and adoption of centralized mobile device management. This blog isn’t intended to be a guide for that. Instead, I’m pointing out that BYOD could be a revenue opportunity that continues to grow for VARs and MSPs everywhere.
Brendan Cosgrove is director of social media and community at Kaseya, which develops IT systems management and automation software for channel partners and corporate IT departments. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship.