Unified Communications Systems - What happens when everyone chooses their own devices and “apps”?
In this post, we are looking at what happens when a company allows people to choose their own devices and bring them into work (CYOD). The first observation is that IT teams need to work with devices and operating systems that they did not choose and which are not part of the original corporate choice.
Users’ expectations are high. We are seeing that company staff and visitors are used to getting instant access to their data through their smart devices, and expect to be able to get online, via the network, immediately when they walk through the company door into the office.
They expect immediate access to the Internet and email, and fast response, and they want this via a wireless network. Combining fast access, fast response and wireless is one challenge, but the network also needs to be secure in terms of what each person can see on the network.
From the company point of view, it’s important that people can’t see things on the network that they don’t have permission to use, so the network needs Chinese walls to protect data belonging to the company and individuals, which means a whole new layer of solutions are needed. The network also needs extra IP addresses. If you have 150 people in an office, all with PCs on their desks, and 150 more devices, you need extra IP addresses, and physical connections. It all adds up to a huge headache for IT management and a potential re-investment in your IT infrastructure.
There is a further concern that everybody’s apps will slow down the network. All tablets are productivity tools, and each device has its own massive marketplace for apps – almost anything you can think of is on offer - so lots of apps are being used. This means that individuals are choosing their own productivity tools, and not going along with corporate policy. For example, you might have Powerpoint in the office, but Prezi, which is friendlier, on your tablet. Ultimately employees have a huge choice of apps and are bringing them onto their company networks.
Forward-thinking companies already have systems and policies in place. It is quite possible to link Apple, Microsoft and Android to a company network, it just needs the right tools to manage all of this and maintain security, and good Unified Communications integration skills.
Much of our work is with clients in this situation. The first priority has to be to protect corporate data, then we have to look at ways to integrate the employees’ equipment with the business communications systems without any detriment to network performance or security.
We offer the following advice: have a defined process to look at smart phone adaption in your business, look to see which devices can get onto your network, and how far can they get on, and then form a policy that is user friendly and that accommodates BYOD – or CYOD.
A good way to start is to ask your staff these three questions: What are you using? What are you using it for? And what applications are you using? When you are armed with this information, you can start to manage the situation better.