Time to unleash the potential of BYOD and UC

Enterprises should support unified communications, UC, functions for BYOD devices. That is the advice given by Brian Riggs, enterprise analyst at Ovum, in a No Jitter column.

Riggs cites an Ovum and Dimension Data survey of 1,400 IT decision makers conducted last year that found enterprises are dragging their feet on supporting UC clients for employee-owned mobile devices.

Around 40 percent of respondents said that they supported UC clients and Web conferencing software on corporate-owned tablets and smartphones, but not on employee-owned devices. When asked whether they would support UC clients on employee-owned devices, 15 percent said they would, but only if the company had approved the device.

Respondents were then asked whether they would support mobile UC clients on any employee-owned smartphone or tablet, regardless of whether IT approved the device. Slightly more than 10 percent said they would, while only 5 percent said they would support both UC clients and conferencing software on those devices.

While close to half of respondents said they let employees use any IT-sanctioned device for work, only 15 percent said they would load a UC client on the device. While 27 percent of respondents said employees can use any device at work, only 5 percent would support a Web conferencing or softphone client for that device.

"I suppose this shouldn't be surprising. Companies' BYOD policies tend to be new and in a state of flux," comments Riggs. "Many IT departments are dipping a toe in the BYOD water before taking a plunge, and they support a wide range of corporate apps on the mobile devices employees bring to work. Also, BYOD policies tend to be concerned more about managing and securing the device, as opposed to deploying and managing each and every kind of app running on them," he adds.

"As BYOD policies mature, it will behoove enterprises to begin expanding the set of business applications--UC applications among them--that IT deploys and supports on the personal mobile devices employees are allowed to use in the workplace," Riggs concludes.

While security needs to be a consideration for IT in what apps it allows on BYOD devices, UC apps are secure apps. They are supplied by the UC vendor and deployed under the watchful eye of IT.

In addition, UC enables a wide range of collaborative tools, such as instant messaging, presence and voice and web conferencing. I agree with Riggs that it is time for enterprises to overcome their reluctance to deploy mobile UC on employee-owned devices and unleash the power of their workforce. - Fred