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Untangled: Mobility – BYOD

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The way we do business is changing. The standard 9-5 in a single office building has been relegated to history books. The ubiquity of smartphones continues to grow as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile. According to latest Frost & Sullivan research, the number of mobile subscribers worldwide is expected to hit 6.8 billion by 2018, and the number of smartphones will surpass feature phones by 2013. IT departments need to evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of empowering their workers with enterprise mobility.

These days, the key buzzword that has been floating around our industry is “BYOD” – bring your own device. Some may even question if it remains necessary to provide new employees with a corporate laptop – more employees are also beginning to agree with this assessment as the Millennial generation seek employment after growing up with technology at their fingertips. They enjoy powerful communication tools that literally fit in the palms of their hands.

But widespread mobility deployment comes with challenges.

The increasing need for workers to remain connected at all times, combined with building design and materials that inhibit cellular radio transmission, mean that businesses are always looking for ways to provide in-building coverage without the significant investment of cellular-based technology.

Businesses can take control of in-building coverage problems and leverage Wireless LAN networks to provide wireless coverage. In fact, business mobile VoIP gateway revenues are expected to exceed $6 billion by 2015, according to an In-Stat research firm report. Some experts estimate that 40 percent to 60 percent of cellular calls are made and received while the user is in the office and within range of the Wi-Fi network. Cellular charges could be reduced—and indoor reception improved—by using the Wi-Fi capability.

Experts are currently seeing a huge demand for VoIP in the mobile world as voice-over-IP (VoIP) proves to be a viable business solution. “Mobile VoIP has only recently begun being implemented in the business environment,” says Amy Cravens, market analyst for In-Stat, in a press release citing the market report from earlier this year. “One of the key benefits of mobile VoIP for enterprises is extending desk phone functionality to mobile devices. Business-oriented solutions will essentially enable the users’ cellphones to become an extension of their desk phones and will deliver, in addition to voice, a unified communications experience, including email, IM, and collaboration.”

Consider a likely disjointed gadget setup for a typical American worker:

  • Personal laptop
  • Home phone
  • Personal cell phone
  • Personal iPad
  • Company laptop
  • Office phone
  • Office fax
  • Company smart phone

Now imagine consider the time investment needed for one to try (first find) and then try to reach someone using all the various communication methods listed above. The recipient would then need to sort through the various messages and voicemails to piece together a request. This would then quite possibly lead to a circular event should a game of “telephone tag” ensue.

In a condensed, BYOD, corporate environment, this same worker might be easily accessible as he or she travels with only one device: a tablet – from which our worker could access emails, the Internet and a soft phone.

As employees leverage smartphones to access enterprise applications and communications, organizations must deploy technology that supports mobile communications and collaboration. These tools are increasing important in a competitive market. Frost & Sullivan research shows that companies that use collaboration tools have a competitive advantage over those that don’t, and that advantage increases as the tools themselves get more advanced.

Releasing employees from the burden of juggling numerous devices, and allowing them to use the full capabilities of their desk phone and unified communications tools from any location (office, home, coffee shops or airport terminals), would likely provide a significant financial savings for the company – including improved productivity, collaboration, decision making, and business continuity.