By Daryl Reva
Were all familiar with the escalating growth of Bring your Own Device approaches, but for channel partners to truly understand how to most effectively respond to them, we need to understand what BYOD really is, whats driving it, the concerns being raised and the opportunities it presents.
The first driver is the increasing number of younger workers for whom a desk phone is a misnomer. These people are part of a generation that doesnt use land lines at home and prefers to conduct all business via a smartphone or tablet.
Next is the increasing mobility of knowledge workers. This means not being confined to an office, but also the reality that companies nowadays are hiring the best talent, not merely the closest talent geographically.
A third driver is that society increasingly views work as an activity instead of a location. Some call it an advance; some call it a cancer. But a growing number of us never turn our brains off from work entirely.
Its important when discussing BYOD to recognize that it comes in several flavors. Number one is voice. That’s basically using your smartphone to accept your business calls, which can be accomplished by simple forwarding. It can also be done with voice-over-Wi-Fi applications, such as Fonalitys HUD Mobile, which is typically used in the Wi-Fi environment or even 4G networks.
The next is business applications for content management, such as Box or Google applications. These give you access to document repositories anywhere you are. I use them myself on my tablet device when I’m in meetings with partners or customers and when I’m traveling and I don’t want to take my laptop.
The third piece of that pie is expanding UC capability to the smartphone with companywide chat, visual voice mails and access to conference rooms with one click. One new aspect here is expanding video enablement across all platforms and ensuring employees have a paralleled communication experience whether they are in the office, working from home or on the road.
Of the concerns being raised about BYOD, the first is usually security. That can be something as simple as securing a device with a password. But it can also go much, much deeper if the phone is actually connecting to the physical network at an office. There are viruses and hackers to be concerned about, especially at the enterprise level.
For SMBs, concerns predictably center on IT costs. There’s the reimbursement or stipend to be paid to employees if they are going to continue to use their personal device as a company asset. Another potential cost is outfitting Wi-Fi within the confines of the company’s office. Voice-over-Wi-Fi as an application is a very heavy usage of BYOD today. In many instances, outfitting a very reliable Wi-Fi environment in a small business is not cheap.
The next issue is voice quality. Cellphone users have long tolerated very poor call quality in exchange for mobility and convenience. But real call quality let’s call it enterprise-grade call quality is a concern when using a smartphone as your main phone.
A final consideration is e911 enablement. Every phone or endpoint on a system needs emergency e911 capabilities. That’s more difficult when you’re using your own device inside a 20-story building.
As they look to implement BYOD policies, companies need to make sure they have a mobile solution that can duplicate the communications features and functionality they get sitting in front of a desktop computer. It’s a parallel type of experience. The ability to monitor and record calls and barge and whisper agents in a call center environment cant be sacrificed just because someone is using a mobile device.
At the same time, a business owner should be able to go to lunch and still see how many calls are waiting in the queue, the average talk time and the average speed to answer. These metrics are important for small businesses to understand and measure themselves against.
In many cases with technology, an educational curve is necessary for adoption. With voice over IP, for instance, you have to understand what the technology is. In this case, adoption is being driven from the streets back into the service providers. It’s a different path for growth with a lot of momentum behind it. As the workforce shifts, it’s going to be important to be able to provide the flexibility employees expect.
For channel partners, there may be additional revenue opportunities in adjacent markets that can be accessed by evolving your skills into manage service providers, network security, IT consultancy,or even additional service offerings to help SMB owners. These are all important aspects channel partners should review internally as the shift to BYOD becomes more impactful.
Daryl Reva joined Fonality in the fall of 2010 with the goal of position ing it as a thought leader in SMB cloud-based business and u nified c ommunication solutions. Now director of product and channel marketing, Reva has helped Fonality establish several strategic key partner and vertical market relationships, introducing the company to new lines of revenue.