BYOD moves work from being time-based to task-based
Legacy issues, both technical and cultural, stand in the way
AS GLOBALIZATION takes centerstage, many companies, be they large enterprises or small-to-medium businesses, are seeking a common goal: To be able to maximize their return on investment while increasing productivity without having to dig deeper into their pockets.
But even as enterprises struggle to keep with up with the legacy IT requirements, new trends are beginning to hit them, making it increasingly complicated to manage. One such trend is known as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon.
Touted as a new paradigm in enterprise computing, BYOD exploits an underlying technological trend sweeping enterprises -- that of the permeation of consumer devices into the enterprise world.
Led by the slew of smartphones and tablets hitting the market, notably Apple's iPhone and Korea's Samsung Galaxy tablet series, this phenomenon has encouraged everyone from C-Level executives right down to junior executives to bring their own devices to work.
Their aim? To be empowered to choose their own devices instead of being provisioned with staid, out-of-fashion computing devices for their work needs.
This trend, according to Mark Templeton (pic), CEO of cloud and virtualization company Citrix Systems, isn't about to slow down, let alone, go away.
At the recently concluded Citrix Synergy Conference at the Moscone Center, in downtown San Francisco, Templeton noted that Citrix as a company has long believed that there is a fundamental shift in how employees work today, especially in a world aided by such pervasive technologies like web apps, mobile app stores, wireless, and cloud computing.
"When we all look at computing the way it has developed over the last 25 years, it's been built on a set of assumptions that is actually dead," he said during his keynote address. "The way Citrix is thinking about the future is that the exceptions of the personal computing (PC) era are now the new assumptions of the cloud era."
Underpinning Templeton's belief that all of us are in a new world paradigm -- insofar as how technologies are making it easier for us to work -- is a fundamental shift in how people view work.
"We tend to intersperse our live with work life and personal life," he said. "I call this 'life-slicing,' as work is no longer defined by a fixed premise, wired connections or working on a desktop computer as it once was.
"We now mix our work with our personal life and today," he said, adding that "the difference today is that people have the tools to empower us to do it."
Tim Coulling, analyst with UK-based Canalys, concurred, noting that this trend is taking shape globally because of the increasing popularity of tablets and smartphones.
Coulling, who spoke to Digital News Asia in an e-mail interview, noted that according to a recent BT report that studied 11 major markets, the United States and Asia Pacific lead the adoption of BYOD policies and mobility practices.
"Employees can become more productive and flexible working practices can be adopted when these policies are rolled out," he said. "Smaller businesses that are naturally more agile than larger enterprises, are better equipped to take advantage of the trend."
Besides the pervasive nature of end-user devices that have proliferated the market, the BYOD phenomenon has been made possible largely because of several back-end core technologies that have come to the fore in recent years.
The first is virtualization -- a technology that allows companies to use virtual resources for computing, networking or storage instead of using physical servers -- touted to reduce costs and enable organizations to use more of the computing power that they already own, dynamically load balancing their existing resources.
The second is cloud computing -- the ability to extend the benefits of virtualization to customers over the Internet as a pay-as-you-go "utility-type" service so that organizations do not have to worry about scaling up their IT needs internally.
But while these technologies are available from a slew of vendors today -- Oracle, VMware and Citrix among them -- large enterprises are still generally reluctant to get on board the BYOD train, something that Citrix's Templeton acknowledged.
At the Citrix Synergy Conference 2012 media briefing for Asia Pacific media, he conceded that the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of BYOD are legacy issues, both in mindset as well as IT systems.
"Some people may argue that work shifting is not in keeping with certain cultures, and there may be older, traditional ways of thinking about work, that is, work being a place, rather that work being a thing that you do.
"I [also] think there are obstacles around government regulations and regulators because governments tend to be laggards and they hold back some of the enterprises that want to do new things, including whether it applies to privacy of information, or rules around workforce, what you are allowed or not allowed to do, in terms of managing the workforce.
"Those who are from this legacy culture must be 'forced into the future,' including being forced by a new generation of workers who will push the envelope. These would then eventually become leaders, who will then define policies of how things work [for the future].
Templeton also noted that overall connectivity infrastructure and the security and privacy issues, whether real and perceived, are another set of obstacles.
"For Citrix, this is an opportunity because we make products that make fundamentally open insecure connections secure enough to carry the most sensitive information," he said. "We are also very persistent and very passionate about what we do, we have a good solution around this."
Asked how these obstacles are to be gradually resolved, Templeton said that it's about getting those "who are ready to adopt this BYOD philosophy on board first," some thing Citrix's sales teams are spending their efforts on in the coming year.
"Our sales teams spend the time with customers who are already ready for this, rather than pushing those who are not ready," he said. "As long as we qualify [our proposition] to our customer well, there are lot's of opportunities for growth because the markets are big enough [to reach]."
The coming of BYOD and its challenges
Dell aims services push at BYOD trend