BYOD Must Evolve to UYOD

By Yaacov Cohen, Co-founder and CEO, harmon.ie — June 12, 2013

Now that BYOD has finally gone mainstream in the enterprise, isn’t it time we actually use those devices? 

Often, industry research questions the ROI on BYOD. While reasonable within a limited perspective, this analysis ignores cultural benefits that arise when companies offer their employees greater freedom of choice. Although pure ROI analysis is useful, creating a productive environment for employees is also essential. For this reason, any examination of BYOD that ignores employee expectations is incomplete at best.

To understand the real weakness of BYOD, we must look beyond financial analysis and examine how these devices are actually used. In today’s world, we mostly use our new shiny iPhones, Android and iPad devices to manage email, contacts  and calendars, none of which breaks any new ground over things we have been able to do for the past decade. Remember the wheel on your first BlackBerry pager? It handled email, contacts and calendar efficiently but we did get much more business functionality since then.

Stagnant Enterprise Value
Despite the unprecedented pace of innovation in consumer mobility over the past five years, the business value of mobile in the enterprise is stagnant. Features such as touch screens, app stores, and activity streams are great but most workers still default to basic email and calendar functions for their mobile work. Overcoming this productivity challenge demands a new wave of tools that add value over and above basic functions we have taken granted for the last 10 years.

Fortunately, everything changes when cloud services meet social and mobile computing. This big shift means that soon you will not only bring BYOD to work but actually use your own device (UYOD) to get work done.

Empowering Employees
UYOD is the real driver and requirement of mobile ROI. If employees do not use their mobile devices, then it is obvious that real ROI is impossible. Conversely, ROI happens when employees collaborate to share contracts, presentations and spreadsheets in remote locations, whether an airport, waiting room or at home. For this reason, we must empower employees to find value in taking advantage of the capabilities their device offers.

Mobile empowerment means giving employees the ability to review a contract, edit a presentation or complete a spreadsheet without remaining tethered to a desk or laptop. The recipe for mobile success involves giving workers flexible tools with the ability to collaborate and share documents.

Not Smart Enough
Although many software vendors have brought powerful productivity apps to market, they have failed to deliver a compelling user experience or the right features. Lacking full compatibility with Microsoft Office forces workers to abandon their mobile devices and rush back to laptops to do “real work.” Bottom line —  our smartphones and tablets are not smart enough to help us do real work. This situation is the anti-UYOD; productivity suffers because the software just isn’t ready for real work.

The recent Office Web Apps and Office 365 release empowers mobile users to access documents from the cloud, edit them using and store them back to the cloud for sharing with co-workers from pretty much any HTML5-compliant browsers:   on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry 10 devices.
Paradoxically, Office Web Apps and Office 365 empower Apple and Google mobile devices and reduce our dependency on the PC, however we remain dependent on PCs for “heavy” document editing.  Accepting and rejecting redlines or making advanced spreadsheet calculations remain possible only using the “real” Microsoft Office. Until a realistic enterprise alternative to Microsoft Office emerges, Office 365 might be the most pragmatic path to enterprise mobile productivity and to UYOD.

Cloudy
This cloud approach where both documents and applications reside on the cloud delivers an additional advantage: mobile enterprise security. Our enterprise documents remain in the secured cloud and our devices remain document-less.

The devices are not compromised as they only enable users to activate the applications, view and edit the documents and store them back in the cloud without having ever downloaded anything to the devices. If you leave your tablet in an airplane, your business documents and enterprise data remain safe, although you may have lost the pictures of your last family vacation.   
It is time for the enterprise to catch up and to upgrade to UYOD, so not only will businesses get more freedom, but ROI as well.

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