The Bring-Your-Own-Device Trend: What It Is and Why It’s Important

by Dan Lothringer, Contributing Writer, LifeSize

A trend has been growing in the IT world for some time now, and it could change the way companies do business.

In the past, IT departments gave employees standardized equipment. Everyone got the same brand laptop, the same cell phone, and the same docking station, to name a few. This ensured compatibility and made it a lot easier to fix or replace faulty hardware and software. If you’ve been in the working world more than a few years, you’re probably familiar with this model.

This paradigm is now changing.  Smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous; 11 percent of adults already own a tablet,  and 54 percent of all phone sales are for smartphones. In just a few short years, small personal computing systems have become commonplace in the business world, and as a result, IT departments are rushing to capitalize on this trend and support employees’ personal devices. The upside is that companies save money while employees gain work flexibility. This trend has been called “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, because it encourages employees to use their own personal systems for work purposes.

BYOD is no flash in the pan, either; a recent survey found that 44 percent of firms have already embraced a BYOD policy, while a staggering 94 percent said that they were hoping to implement one by 2013. Companies realize that by supporting platforms that employees already own, they’re increasing productivity and streamlining performance. Real-time information will allow important decisions to be made instantaneously, prompting software giant SAP’s CIO Oliver Bussmann to pronounce, “Mobile apps and real-time information will drive new behaviors for decision-making.”  Simply put, a well-run BYOD policy will make a company exponentially more efficient and better able to quickly respond to an ever-changing marketplace.

Perhaps the most exciting possibility presented by a BYOD policy is that it will enable easy video conferencing. While IT departments will need to ensure interoperability for mobile devices, the advantages are incredible. Team members will be able to hold face-to-face meetings from thousands of miles apart with virtually no set-up time. “Not too long ago, video conferencing was the exclusive domain of dedicated and expensive rooms, balky equipment, and heavy per-minute charges for ISDN time just to see herky-jerky video,” wrote Information Week’s Jerry Ryan. Now anyone with a tablet or laptop can take part in video conferencing. Because LifeSize supports over 40 mobile devices, interoperability challenges are now a thing of the past. With an effective BYOD program, employees will be able to hold meaningful meetings with nothing but their own computing devices.

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