Users drive BYOD take-off: but can BlackBerry catch up?

Aviation regulator CAA is the latest business to embrace BYOD but it remains to be seen if BlackBerry can keep its competitive edge.

Many would agree bring your own device (BYOD) has already happened.

The question now is how organisations deal with it and what the consumer push to open up the variety of corporate devices means for BlackBerry.

Increasingly organisations are adopting a more open approach to letting employees use their own devices.

Aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is the latest body to move to a BYOD policy. It chose software from mobility management supplier Good Technology to enable a BYOD strategy. Previously the organisation had up to 400 BlackBerrys. The technology allows the CAA to control personal devices through apps which sit on their phones and tablets. All corporate functions are conducted through the Good Technology software.

Nic Stevenson, assistant director at the CAA, said efficiency was the key factor in making the move to bring your own device. “We were looking at something to make it easier for our staff to do their work, if they are required to work remotely, and using devices outside the office. Particularly as the organisation itself works in an international environment,” he says.
“Whether staff are travelling to airports or working cockpits, mobile working is a fundamental part of the business.

“It is a flexible system where, if people want to use Android or iOS, they can do, but we are also providing devices if people don’t have their own or are not comfortable using their own in every situation. It allows people to work more flexibly without the need for carrying laptops. For example, when I travel to our base in Gatwick from London it takes just 30 minutes, so I wouldn’t bring a laptop.

“As a regulator, we are very rules-based and we can be a late adopter on some things, so we are really pleased to embrace something new that works for employees and the company.”
Richard Absalom, analyst at Ovum, says that, in its latest survey, 40% of consumers in the UK said they were already using their own devices to access corporate information – with and without their organisations’ consent.

He says the consumer push was the key driver behind BYOD. As such, most companies are now at least thinking about putting policies in place. “The question is in putting policies together, every company is different. We are dealing with a range of different attitudes and employees and what works best for them. Every CIO has BYOD on their mind at the moment,” says Absalom.

“Our advice is to start with employees and work out what we are doing already and what we want to do.

“A lot of people see it as a cost-cutting measure, by getting rid of the hardware. Our advice is not to think about it that way, as you are bringing in third-party management solutions, airtime costs and managing devices in-house can also get expensive.

“The case is around managing security risks, productivity and engagement, and the extra working time it can get out of people. CIOs are worried about having control of data, knowing what kind of data people are accessing and being able to keep control of it.”

BYOD uptake is happening everywhere across the board: “Email is the key tool workers are using to access on their own devices, with most admitting that friends showed them how to access email rather than being showed how to by the organisation – something which can easily be achieved if the IT department has opened up ActiveSync,” Absalom says.

There is currently a boom in the mobility management market, delivering ways of securing things easily while giving a user experience that consumers want.

“BYOD has happened, but in term of companies managing it, that is still nascent,” says Absalom. Mobile device management (MDM), mobile app management, persona management, document management and ID management are all growing areas.

“We’ve seen a lot of growth over last few years, with hundreds of suppliers in the BYOD management market,” he says.

Choose your own device

Businesses are also provisioning more devices by a range of different companies, but retaining ownership of the hardware.

“This is an attractive option for some companies as it is easier to control the tariffs, rather than working out reimbursements for personal contracts. There is also some push-back from employees in having their devices remotely managed by the employer,” says Absalom.

Leigh Ellis, web and iPhone developer at construction company LNT Group, decided to migrate off BlackBerry and develop an Apple-only estate with the roll-out of 1,700 iPhones.

“We don’t really see having an Apple-only estate as a move away from the BYOD trend, instead we saw that many people were wanting to use their own Apple devices as BYOD and we wanted everyone to have access to the same tools and materials,” says Ellis.

“By providing each member of staff with an iPhone we were able to concentrate on one platform which make everything easier, from managing security principles to developing our in-house app for employees to use.

“We saw the move to providing devices for everyone as an opportunity to really secure our infrastructure. It gave us a vehicle to implement new rules and measures that would better lock down our network and, with the tools provided by our chosen MDM solution, it was especially easy to translate our planned requirements into reality.”

LNT Group uses Absolute Manage to provide mobile device management for the devices.
“I realise that such a project would not be possible for many companies and think that BYOD is certainly the way to go in these cases. BYOD is what your people want, so you might as well be prepared for it,” Ellis says.

The BlackBerry proposition

Ellis says the company would have given BlackBerry more consideration had it been making this decision now, with knowledge of BlackBerry’s latestZ10 device. “However, the much-needed revamp could also bring about some new teething problems which we wouldn’t like to risk being the guinea pigs for,” he says.

“BlackBerry may have taken a couple of years too long to bring themselves up to date with the current market and we will have to wait and see whether they have done enough to secure a revival. Its saving grace may be its heritage and the fact that many businesses change that slowly that BlackBerry’s misgivings will be stepped over.”

BlackBerry became the standard mobile device for businesses because it was the only one that could provide push email services. It seems that many businesses have taken a long time to re-evaluate what is available in the marketplace as other manufacturers have been able to do this for many years now, says Ellis.

Ovum’s Absolom believes that a growing amount of hardware and software in the market is starting to challenge BlackBerry’s dominance in security.

“BlackBerry is in tough position, having some success with BlackBerry Z10. But in this environment the reason Apple and Android are so successful is that they have been bought into by the consumer market. But BlackBerry is still a great enterprise proposition, as companies like security,” says Absolom. BlackBerry is likely to struggle selling to consumers, he says, as it has fallen behind substantially in this market.

“There is also competition from the Windows Phone, which may seem like an attractive proposition to enterprises,” he says, adding that Microsoft is likely to throw a lot of resources behind developing its mobile strategy.

“While BlackBerry is also doing more in the software management space – working to support iOS and Android – if it moved to just becoming a software company that would be a huge comedown in revenue,” adds Absolom.

Rob Bamforth, analyst at Quocirca, agrees that getting the consumer buy-in is key for BlackBerry to win back employees and with them the enterprise.

“Given the apparent appeal of Apple and Android, there does seem to be more pull on those platforms from a consumer and BYOD perspective. BlackBerry and Microsoft are doing some interesting stuff, but I don’t know if the devices are appealing enough,” he says.

For CAA’s Stevenson, having a range of multiple devices is a more modern way of working. He says the organisation would not have reconsidered its move to open up the number of mobile devices, even if the BlackBerry Z10 had been released at the time.

“We want to move to a more open environment, allowing people to choose from a range of devices they can choose themselves. It’s certainly not a BlackBerry-versus-iPhone issue.”

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