MSPmentor Blog

BYOD & BYOA: The Consumerization of Business IT Is Real Now

If you haven’t been following the debate on BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – you soon will.  The debate was inspired by the proliferation of $300 netbooks four years ago. Managed service providers were successful, for the most part, in keeping those consumer devices off the corporate network due to lack of security, manageability as well as raw horsepower.

Fast forward four years and the IT world is changing significantly. Connectivity is moving towards ubiquity, the cloud business model is real and the tablet was released in 2009 that forever changed the hardware landscape.

The tablet market is growing at a dizzying pace. Gartner is calling for 294 million units worldwide within four years, while Forrester is expecting 82 Million of them in the U.S. alone by 2015.  Apple commands almost 90% share, but more than 125 other tablets have come to market by mid-2011.

Some of the early limitations of tablets, like netbooks before them, included lack of security, manageability and compatibility.  Newer devices have improved and now offer PKI authentication certificates, biometrics and remote wipe capabilities making them acceptable to several IT departments.  One lesser known limitation that still exists is if the device is subject to a legal hold – the company is in a legal dispute of some kind - the end user will lose the device for an extended time.

Smaller companies, for the most part, do not have these policies and were the first to adopt BYOD.  The proliferation into industries such as healthcare has taken less than a year to happen.

The story isn’t just about managing secondary and tertiary devices from the consumer market.  Industry experts as well as futurists are calling for more devices, perhaps dozens per individual, gaining access to secure corporate and government networks.

What is BYOA?

The consumerization of IT isn’t just about hardware – we are at the beginning of another interesting trend:  BYOA – Bring Your Own App.  Some have predicted that the explosion of over 1 million apps may spell the end of the traditional desktop internet.  While that is likely premature, apps could provide some real advantages in the business world including cutting down on training time, allowing employees to feel more invested, and replacing costly software licensing with cheaper apps.

However, there are several issues with BOA including:
  • Compliance and regulations in several industries blocking adoption
  • Security of the data on public clouds and intermixed with consumer data
  • Portability of the output
  • Information fragmentation
We are already seeing examples of the where corporate communication has been fragmented into public clouds including personal email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and a growing number of other social media tools.  As other app categories get more popular, such as human resources, expense reporting and CRM, the Channel will be challenged with supporting this rapidly growing ecosystem.

Where MSPs Fit In

Managed Service Providers will be crucial in managing this complexity of dozens of devices and perhaps hundreds of apps per person.  New services and practices will evolve that focus on vendor management, security, compliance, data organization and protection in this increasingly fragmented world.  New revenue models will also evolve including micropayments by device and app – in many cases pennies per month.

To be effective in managing this potential chaos and, more importantly, profiting from it, Managed Service Providers will need to have built a solid business foundation with predictable and repeatable business workflows.  The adoption of a PSA (Professional Service Automation) and RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) toolset that can manage this ecosystem will be crucial in being successful.

Jay McBain is senior VP of strategy and community at Autotask Corp., developers of Autotask hosted IT business management software, the VARStreet family of advanced quoting and e-commerce tools and Taskfire, a hosted service desk and ticket management system. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.

Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Jeffrey Cutner (not verified)
on Aug 10, 2011
Very interesting article. With work being an activity and not a place, the need for provisioning, managing, and securing devices will need to be centralized. There are software and service providers that offer proactive solutions for remote devices that MSP's can use/resell as well when building an enterprise solution.
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2011
Amos, Jeff: Just want to point out that I can't take credit for the article. The author is Jay McBain, senior VP, Autotask. My personal opinion: Bring Your Own Device to work is actually a mixed trend rather than growing trend. Here's why... 1. Smart Phones -- growing trend. Yes, employees are bringing their own smart phones to work. 2. PCs and Notebooks -- less and less of a trend in the enterprise. Large companies tried Bring Your Own Device and in many cases it was too much of a headache. Small businesses, however, continue to see the trend accelerate in certain niches -- especially start-up companies that depend heavily on freelancers and contractors. 3. Tablet -- mixed trend. Seems like all MSPs are carrying tablets at MSP conferences. Corporate executives in large companies also carrying them. But I'm not sure if the tablet-carrying trend has caught on among SMB employees. Either way I do agree with McBain's central point: We're back to heterogeneous environments that include mobile devices and multiple operating systems. -jp
Jim Van (not verified)
on Aug 11, 2011
Sorry...meant to say Jay...not Joe...credit where credit is due:)
Jim Van (not verified)
on Aug 11, 2011
Talk about telling it like it is, Joe! Logicomm has seen a major shift from laptops to tablets, and an increasing number of our microbusiness customers have shifted from the PC/Mac model(almost) entirely. Management is key here, especially, as you point out, in dealinjg with the explosion in apps. As Amos points out, it's important to maintain a supported apps policy, and limit that list before one becomes too overwhelmed with putting out the fires that result from supporting a multitude of apps. That's where virtual desktops come in. For the most part, our clients are happy, because they are, indeed, able to use their tablets like (mostly) a conventional PC, and have most, if not all, the apps they need available to them. We, as their MSP, OTOH, are able to manage the VDI with less effort than remotely managing a system. And if their hardware devlops issues, which we see more commonly with Android-based hardware than with iOS, there's always a restore function... With VDI, many of our microbusness clients are experiencing the benefits of solid policies being deployed, without the the pain typically experienced by smaller companies when policies are first introduced into their environments... Interestingly, although it was a much different device, and a different impact,, the introduction of the original RIM (now Blackberry) devices in the enterprise environment in which I worked back in the day, presented some parallel issues..nothing with quite the impact of what we're experiencing today, of course, but in a sense, history is repeating itself... Jim Van Logicomm http://www.logicomm-inc.com
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on Aug 11, 2011
Jeffrey: But will employees allow MSPs and corporate IT to monitor BYOD (Bring Your Own Decide) options like personal tablets running corporate apps?
Amos Brown (not verified)
on Aug 11, 2011
Great topic. Very interesting. @Joe I think the answer depends on how much support end users expect to receive on their personal devices or their own apps. A large part of this conversation will focus around access restrictions to remote systems, via citrix, rdp, and the like. At that point, the only app required on the personal device would be for access to these centralized systems, managed by corp. IT, becoming a chokepoint for managability. "Can you get to the network? Can you log into Citrix? Okay, what can I help you with?" If a natively installed app is required to perform corporate duties, then the personal device must meet the minimum supportability standards of the app provider and the corporate IT dept. or MSP. That includes the necessary access for the IT dept, or MSP to support that end user's personal device when things go wrong. I think there is a reasonable give and take in these situations related to how end-users get their work done. Again, great topic!
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on Aug 16, 2011
Jay: Sort of ironic... CIOs want to work with fewer vendors. And I think MSPs, generally speaking, also want to work with fewer vendors (without selling their souls to specific vendors). Yet the list of potential vendor partners continues to grow. Cloud storage companies, in particular, come to mind. Scores of options. Scores of partner programs. Lots of information for MSPs to weed through... But there will be a shakeout. All markets consolidate. And I think the consolidation is happening right now. -jp
Jay McBain (not verified)
on Aug 15, 2011
Great comments - one of the major shifts of the client/server era was the amount of variables, permutations and combinations added for the Channel. The move from the homogeneous mainframe or unix customer environment added complexity as the amount of vendors/products to implement, manage and secure went from dozens to thousands. Now the move to cloud computing (including pervasive devices, ubiquitous connectivity and private/hybrid/public clouds) will add even more complexity for the Channel. I wrote a couple of months ago about an ecosystem with 100,000 vendors - not as far fetched as you would think: http://jaymcbain.blogspot.com/2011/06/future-world-with-100000-channel.html
Joe Panettieri (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2011
Jay: I think you just set the record for the longest comment ever posted on MSPmentor. Sorry, you don't win a Harley. But as usual it's a good read. -jp
Jay McBain (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2011
Joe, I actually argue against consolidation - here was a blog from a month or so back: What does a Channel look like that has 100,000 vendors? With all of the talk about mergers, acquisitions and disruptive cloud business models, the pundits have predicted a consolidation in IT vendors over the next couple of years. I strongly believe the opposite will happen. Here are 8 reasons why: 1. The barrier to entry is approaching zero. Ubiquitous connectivity driving thousands of inexpensive purpose-built devices supports a cloud environment where traditional research, development, manufacturing and distribution costs evaporate. Highly specialized “apps” solve specific problems and grow organically through word of mouth and unique marketing techniques. 2. A “good enough” philosophy has driven the software industry for decades – this doesn’t improve in the cloud, but in fact gets worse as different business models emerge. Specializations by industry, technology, geography, language, demographics, business models and cost drive the amount of permutations and combinations up substantially. 3. The emergence of freemium price strategies and recurring micropayments attract a new generation of entrepreneurs who grew up in the iTunes generation. The Long Tail of vendors will continue to grow as new monetization scenarios evolve. In a world where the number of eyeballs rule, media and ad supported companies will flourish (check out Spiceworks) 4. Consumerization in the enterprise. Again, somewhat generational is the change of perception of what makes up a commercial level product versus a consumer one. As a category commoditizes, the price drops dramatically and the device become disposable. The same can happen for software in the cloud, as prices reach zero the category becomes transient in nature. 5. Social media is driving the cost of marketing towards zero. One intelligent and savvy professional can appear like an army and participate in hundreds of conversations per day. While not the top influencer of behavior, social filters are quickly growing in importance in the business community and will take top spot within 3 years. 6. Communities and peer networks have grown in the past 2 years to become the top influencer of business customer buying behavior (Channel behavior as well). Participating in communities does not carry the cost of traditional Channel marketing, but again takes a small number of savvy, plugged in extroverts who appear larger than life. 7. Connectors rule. With thousands of vendors, the importance of social media and communities will continue to grow. When people experience information overload, the common reaction is to shut down and seek out personal filters – even if those filters come from your competitor. Connectors have an innate skill of piecing together a complex ecosystem and making the right social connections. They are usually not technical experts – but relationship experts. 8. With a growing number of communities spread across industry, technology, geography and business model, multiplied by the growing number of communication vehicles ranging from 140 character tweets to multi-day major events, Dandelion Marketing will win the day. Another example of a low cost marketing model, the marketer will pervasively engage in hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations every day. Adding value as opposed to selling, and making the right connections without regard to success or failure of each seed will make these marketers stand out on top. Now, some of the proof points: The predictions above are not based on fuzzy math or some level of quantum mechanics. They are simply an extension of trends that are already apparent. The first example is on the technology vertical side – specifically, CRM. Salesforce.com broke this category wide open but quickly was challenged by over 1,000 competitors. Every single vendor in this space has built a differentiated value proposition, based on some of the things I mentioned above such as industry, product scope, price and customer business model as well as about a dozen more points of specialization. CRM is the first of more than 40 technology categories that will reach multi-billion dollar status and thousands of competitors. The second example is in the healthcare industry vertical. The buzz over the past few years has centered around Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and the stimulus funding in the United States. We quickly saw 300 viable EMR solutions surface in the US, with hundreds more coming to market each year that further specialize into the hundreds of niches in this highly regulated market. EMR is only one category of medical software, with practice management and all of the specialized tools driving better patient outcomes. It is safe to say that there are thousands of vendors already in this industry and things really get interesting when you start to look at the other 26 major industries. That is how we start to approach 100,000 Channel vendors – 40 technology verticals (and growing) as well as 27 industry specialties. This does not include language variations, government, or geographic specific applications as well as the consumerization of the workplace that will potentially include thousands of consumer applications being run alongside these business applications (read as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) This inevitability leads to significant opportunity for the Channel. Beyond the obvious vendor management opportunities, the skills to navigate this vast marketplace and provide sage guidance to small and medium businesses will be a core competency in a world with 100,000 vendors.
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