There are more than 6 billion mobile users worldwide, according to a report by the U.N. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last year. This dynamic, complex and competitive digital environment has become an immense force shaping business today and having a profound effect on the way companies operate internally with BYOD policies growing in popularity. BYOD, or bring your own device, enables employees to bring their personal computers and mobile devices into the workforce and has many benefits for productivity and efficiency.
Immense Impact of Mobility
Mobile use is the biggest shift in technology since the onset of Internet capabilities, yet this is just the start. According to data gathered by comScore, smartphone use among U.S. consumers had already surpassed the 125 million mark and tablet owners numbered more than 50 million at the start of 2013. While it took smartphones nearly a decade to reach 40 million owners, tablets reached that milestone in a mere two years following the launch of the iPad.
If Kelleher and others like him are correct in asserting that mobile use is still evolving, the need for companies to find new ways of optimizing productivity in a world of untethered, constantly connected employees will only gain momentum. BYOD initiatives implement the latest mobile technology by allowing employees to bring their devices.
Top Mobility-Led Trends
Workplace flexibility, including telecommuting, job sharing and reduced hours, is one of the trends influenced by the growing BYOD mobile environment. Despite Yahoo’s well-publicized ban earlier this year, workplace flexibility is expected to continue growing. There are plenty of top companies — from Cisco to Intel to Pricewaterhouse Coopers — not getting media attention that are embracing necessary changes in business culture so employees are no longer forced to choose between flexibility and advancement, according to CNN Money.
Mobile users are also contributing to another major business trend: cloud computing. Employees in increasing numbers are using online services and apps on their BYOD devices to perform a variety of tasks, from basic storage and file sharing to complex software as a service (SaaS) applications, like Salesforce.com.
As companies engage customers in more sophisticated ways, they also gather tremendous amounts of data, such as likes and dislikes, buying habits and product use. Data will continue to be a huge trend for business, and services ready to analyze and manage it have sprung up seemingly overnight, another way cloud computing has grown.
But that is only part of the story. Because businesses are recognizing employees are constantly connected, there has been greater movement toward a bring your own device atmosphere. From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to expect employees to keep two sets of devices and companies save by reducing the investment in technology.
The negative side to BYOD, however, is security risk. For example, Blackberry compatibility with BYOD is safeguarded by the growing number of security minded applications. For instance, the app Box is available for Blackberry, Android, Windows and iOS platforms. This free app can safely and securely store work-related files, while also allowing easy sharing among employees.
Implementing the Trends
Most of today’s top business trends are popular because they take advantage of technology to improve worker productivity and reduce costs. To follow suit, begin with:
1. Company culture conducive to workplace flexibility
2. Willingness to invest in employee training necessary to realize optimum return on investment of paid cloud computing applications
3. Implementation of security measures to address BYOD concerns