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BYOD Is More Than Tablets: SMB Growth Opportunity for MSPs?

There is little debate that mobile technology has become an indispensable tool for small and medium businesses (SMBs). And while mobile devices might be most synonymous with the bring-your-own and consumerization trends, it’s increasingly common to have employees toting their own personal Macbook or Windows laptop into the workplace.  But for MSPs and IT organizations that serve those businesses...

the questions include:
  • Does the massive influx of employee-owned devices amount to a bigger opportunity?
  • Does BYOD offer A new way to grow MSP support and RMM businesses?
The short answer is yes, but like virtually all ‘consumerization’ trends, the upside potential changes from company to company.

Bring Your Own Takes Hold...

A survey in 2011 by CompTIA  suggests that some 85 percent of all SMB firms had employee-owned devices being used for work purposes, with laptops and smartphones being the most popular.  And this, no doubt, creates new opportunities for MSPs to step in and help.

…But demand for device management and support varies

As with bigger businesses, SMB policies around employee-owned devices vary widely from shop to shop. Some SMBs simply allow access to work email via personal devices (be it Macbooks, iPhones or iPads). Others tap into remote access programs to help employees access business applications, files and data while on the go.  And still others go all out, offering custom or business related mobile apps for anything from CRM to CAD to Inventory to Accounting.

Long story short, managed services for employee owned devices aren’t likely to come in a neat, repeatable package.

Flexible skills and tools needed

A recent survey by Forrester Research confirms this consumerization shift on the mobile side– and the somewhat obvious front runners.  Over the next year, 83 percent of companies expect to support Apple’s iOS and 77 percent expect to support Android.  Despite the future uncertainty, BlackBerry still matters.  And the upside potential for Windows Phone is significant.  Beyond mobile, Macbooks continue to gain popularity at home and work.  Ensuring that an MSP’s staff is up to speed on the ins and outs of these OSes is a no brainer.

MSPs also need to carefully evaluate the tools they adopt to support and manage devices walking in off the street -- tools should be able to tackle both company and employee-owned devices.

Getting BYOD Under Control

To effectively manage and support employee-owned devices at SMB customers, you must:
  • Clearly define the types of services you can offer to increase your relevance for businesses with widely varying device policies and needs
  • Use tools that can remotely diagnose, configure and troubleshoot multiple types and makes of devices
  • Broaden your team’s expertise to include OS X, iOS and Android
  • Be sure you can reactively support a variety of smartphones, tablets and remote computers, without having to install pre-deployed software, and regardless of who owns the device or whether a device is ‘enrolled’ by the company
  • Design processes and solutions to manage multiple sessions at same time
  • Select intuitive management and support tools to reduce your own training requirements and ensure accessibility – and use -- by technicians of all skill levels
  • Support Web- or application-based chat across devices
Managing and supporting the growing number of employee-owned devices can present a golden business opportunity for MSPs. But to make the most of it and to ensure good profit margins, make sure you have the flexibility to adapt your services to the unique needs of your SMB clients.

Lee Weiner is VP of support products at LogMeIn. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.

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