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BYOx: Incorporating More than Just User Devices
Mobility is fundamentally changing the way we work in a variety of ways

The last few years in IT have seen us move from a proactive to a reactive environment. For decades, the boundaries in communication technology were pushed by government, military and business needs. As technology improved and costs dropped, innovations were gradually adapted for the consumer market. But this is not the case anymore. IT is now in the position of having to rapidly adopt new hardware and software to keep up with evolving business needs. This time the pressure is coming from their own employees, as consumer trends make their way to the world of business.

Chief among these developments is mobility. More than just a single trend, however, it is fundamentally changing the way we work in a variety of ways. Employees are finding that smartphones and tablets give them the freedom to be productive anywhere. While initially the company was in complete control of the purchase, provisioning and life cycle of these devices, in recent years, employees have begun demanding the freedom to use their own devices for work as well.

As the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) trend has taken hold in organizations throughout the world, employees are naturally finding even more ways to improve their productivity. The initial benefits of mobile devices were being able to connect with clients and colleagues at any time, but that soon expanded to include productivity applications as well. Now they are making calls, scheduling meetings, responding to emails, updating presentations and doing a host of other things on their own mobile devices. Where business-provided tools fail to give them the freedom they need, they are turning to other sources.

From BYOD to BYOx
BYOD has evolved beyond just a device philosophy to encompass a variety of related technologies that enhance employee productivity. One of these is the apps themselves. In many cases users are turning to apps such as Skype when their corporate communication options are limited in ability, making collaboration too difficult. Or their official company app may just be too complicated for them to use comfortably. In other cases, file sharing may be limited or impossible when they are not connected to the corporate network, leading them to take advantage of consumer-grade cloud apps like Dropbox.

The issue for organizations is evolving beyond BYOD to BYOx, where x may be applications, the cloud, or other resources that users want to take advantage of without corporate support. This leads inevitably to concerns about security. When business information lives on the same device as user apps that are not being vetted by IT, there's always the risk of accidental information exposure, or deliberate theft by malicious parties.

Addressing the BYOx Challenge
To deal with these concerns, businesses have turned to MDM, or mobile device management. MDM allows organizations to know what devices are on their network, the employee they belong to and allows them to implement basic profiles to control network access. This approach worked well in an environment in which the business maintained direct control over devices, but the situation has become more complicated in a new BYOx era. With user-owned devices being used to access corporate files in addition to personal use, and that use expanding to unofficial apps and cloud services, MDM is no longer enough. It's time to adopt a more comprehensive enterprise mobile management (EMM) strategy that gives businesses control over every way their information is being accessed and used in today's BYOx environment.

EMM can help organizations establish an environment in which users are free to be fully productive and access the materials they need from anywhere, while maintaining the protection of their sensitive information. It combines the MDM they have been implementing on corporate-owned devices with the ability to manage applications and content on employee-owned smartphones and tablets, restricting access where necessary.

Industry analysts and vendors are starting to apply this approach to mobile solutions, even as their customers are figuring out how to implement BYOD into their infrastructure. Organizations should look for EMM solutions that will provide security and productivity while on the corporate network, as well as when employees are working via cellular network. The BYOx environment should allow workers to collaborate seamlessly regardless of their physical location or device.

As technology and user habits continue to evolve, enterprises have been struggling to keep up with the changes and provide adequate support. While mobility is fast becoming an indispensable part of the way we do business, it's vital to manage devices - regardless of who owns them - to deliver a positive, secure user experience.

About Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts is responsible for the leadership of the Mobility Portfolio at Siemens Enterprise Communications providing the strategy and vision for the mobility solutions across the portfolio. He is also responsible for the marketing of this portfolio. Randy has spent over 17 years in the communications industry holding leadership positions in Product Management, Strategy and Development.

Prior to joining SEN, Roberts served in leadership roles at Research in Motion, AT&T, Motorola and Nokia. Randy is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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