As the demand to support a remote workforce grows in the enterprise, the way in which employees communicate with colleagues and customers is changing. Individuals are no longer content with traditional land line phone systems that require users to sit at their desk and use bulky, outdated equipment. Consumers are more interested in freedom, and this mentality is quickly making its way into the business world.
The proliferation of bring your own device (BYOD) and other mobile initiatives is encouraging enterprise decision-makers to rethink what can actually be considered a business phone system. In the past, these platforms were considered one thing: a clunky land line solution that could not be moved without encountering some monumental challenge. Today is much different, thanks largely to the advent of smartphones and tablets.
A recent Gartner report highlighted that 38 percent of companies will stop providing employees with communication devices by 2016 when BYOD is more common. Because there are many advantages to BYOD and other mobile strategies, including the ability to support remote connectivity, reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction, these endeavors are considered among the most disruptive – and positive – forces to hit the enterprise in the past several decades.
How is BYOD changing the business world?
Generally, BYOD enables individuals to use personal smartphones, tablets and other mobile platforms for work-related purposes. This idea, which is part of the greater consumerization movement, is providing organizations of all sizes and industries with greater availability to more advanced phone system features that can be accessed anywhere in the world, Gartner stated. As a result, enterprise collaboration strategies are becoming more thorough, strengthening operations and improving overall experience in and outside of the workplace.
At the same time, decision-makers have not come to fully grasp BYOD, as companies continue to experience challenges when deploying the programs.
"The business case for BYOD needs to be better evaluated. Most leaders do not understand the benefits, and only 22 percent believe they have made a strong business case. Like other elements of the Nexus of Forces (cloud, mobile, social and information), mobile initiatives are often exploratory and may not have a clearly defined and quantifiable goal, making IT planners uncomfortable. If you are offering BYOD, take advantage of the opportunity to show the rest of the organization the benefits it will bring to them and to the business," said David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
A well-managed BYOD initiative will have a dramatic impact on corporate operations by providing individuals new ways to work. However, it is important that decision-makers take the time to map out the project ahead of time to avoid any complications when actually navigating the mobile environment.
Developing an effective BYOD strategy
If a BYOD endeavor is to be successful, enterprise directors need to develop a robust policy that governs its use. A Good Technology report noted that these guidelines must include which operating systems and specific devices are allowed in the workplace. After all, if a company implements a complete free-for-all approach to mobility, IT departments and executives will have trouble managing operations amongst the chaos.
Beyond determining which platforms are allowed to connect to the office phone system, decision-makers must also come to grips with the fact that using mobile gadgets in the workplace inherently increases risk, Good Technology noted. In most cases, BYOD initiatives will mean that individuals use their smartphones and tablets for both corporate and personal activities. This blend means that sensitive information has a greater chance of slipping through unforeseen vulnerabilities.
"It is essential that IT specify which platforms will be supported and how; what service levels a user should expect; what the user's own responsibilities and risks are; who qualifies; and that IT provides guidelines for employees purchasing a personal device for use at work, such as minimum requirements for operating systems," Willis asserted.
Still, Gartner found that more than half of enterprises believe they are implementing security and governance strategies effectively, thereby improving the overall use of personal smartphones and tablets in the workplace. This confidence is leading to the maturity of innovative tools and procedures that will be needed to carry out mission-critical tasks in the long run.
In the coming years, the consumerization of IT will continue to have a significant role in the ongoing development of the phone system. By changing the way people communicate, the business world as a whole can evolve into something greater and more connected. In many cases, implementing cloud computing tools can help organizations embrace BYOD and other crucial mobile strategies, as the hosted environments offer a uniform and agnostic platform in which every endpoint can work together. By planning ahead and working with trusted service providers, enterprise decision-makers can experience more significant collaborative opportunities.