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During the last 20 years, technology has evolved from the command-line interface to drop-down menus to apps that look simple on the surface but mask a lot of complexity.
The upshot is that more people have a higher level of comfort in using technology than ever before. For corporate IT, this means addressing new demands from employees who want corporate applications to reflect the same kind of simplicity as Facebook and Flickr—also known as the consumerization of IT. It also means addressing their demands for accessing corporate data without forcing them to carry two different mobile devices, one for work and one for personal use.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) boom can be traced to two converging trends: the desire for employees to be responsive to customers and colleagues in a global, always-connected world still wrestling with time zones; and the desire to save money by not replicating a device that employees may already own. In a way, mobility has solved one of the hardest aspects of deploying applications—getting users excited.
By combining users’ keen interest with IT’s knowledge of the business and Accenture’s insight into the tools and technologies, enterprises can establish a foundation for a proactive and highly responsive mobility strategy.
In October 2011, the wireless-industry association CTIA reported that the number of wireless subscriber connections in the United States had, for the first time, exceeded the number of people. It reported 322.9 million such connections in a country of 315.5 million. From the previous year, the number of wireless-enabled tablets and laptops increased to 15.2 million from 12.9 million (a 17 percent increase), while the number of active data-capable devices (i.e., smartphones) increased to 278.3 million from 264.5 million (just a 5 percent increase).
The ability to get—and share—information anywhere and at anytime has become ensconced in 21st century life, both personal and professional. This didn’t happen overnight, and it represents a confluence of multiple technological trends: miniaturization of components, wireless technology, social networking and cloud computing, among others. Perhaps the most important of these trends: ease of use. Anyone who has ever watched a toddler playing with an iPad® knows that we have seen the last generation that computers can intimidate.
Just as mobility erases geographical boundaries, BYOD erases time boundaries, allowing employees not only to be productive after working hours (a boon for the enterprise) but also to time-shift commitments, allowing them to attend a child’s soccer game in the afternoon and work later in the evening (a boon for employees). Mobility brings a significant advantage to productivity, but as with many advantages, there are tradeoffs.
Device manufacturers, software developers and companies like Accenture are working on solutions to overcome BYOD’s biggest drawbacks. Some of them may be interim solutions; others may be long-term advances that become industry-standard capabilities. Enterprises that want the competitive advantage that mobility brings should be aware of these solutions and incorporate them into their ongoing mobility strategy.
One of the ways in which CIOs can best master the BYOD phenomenon is to be proactive. Users are going to bring mobile devices into the organization (just as they may have done with laptops years ago). They’re going to demand connectivity and support. Contrary to how they may seem to IT, they want to be more productive in their work.
It’s incumbent upon IT then to be ready when those requests start to stack up—if they haven’t already. When IT understands and accommodates users’ technology needs—especially now, when those users also see the value that mobility provides—the result can go a long way to improving relations between the business units and IT.
April 12, 2013
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