One of the largest trends in enterprise IT right now is “BYOD” – standing for “bring your own device”. This is just a snappy acronym for what’s been happening for a while – employees using their own mobile phones, tablets or other products for work as well as in their personal life. Previously, it was given the less-cool name of “consumerisation of the enterprise”, although pedantically that also implies the use of consumer-grade services (eg Skype) as well as hardware.
BYOD is important for a whole host of reasons relevant to enterprise CIOs and their suppliers – security, management, fit with IT applications and so on. In the past, IT departments would have typically had a proscriptive “Thou shalt use company-approved Device X if thou wisheth to receive support”. Or in other words “Use your BlackBerry or E71 for business email, not your iPhone or Galaxy S”. But over time, the pushback has become more solid – often starting with C-level executives or top staff ignoring those edicts and demanding that IT support their favoured products. It’s a brave IT manager that will tell the CEO or top salesperson that they can’t use their iPad when they’re with clients.
But this post is not about those practical issues – it’s about how this impacts telcos.
The first point is that this potentially doesn’t just mean BYOD – it also implies BYOSP (bring your own service provider). Employees’ own devices, if used for business, are likely to be connected via a broad array of mobile network operators, or if WiFi-only, perhaps no SP at all. This is a completely different model to the idea of a corporate “fleet” of mobile devices all provided by the same company, with a bundled device+SIM deal. Instead, BYOD means that employees will have various SIMs, and various operator-customised versions of phones, plus some that are “vanilla” bought through retail.
This is a major problem for operators that have been trying to develop and sell enterprise mobility applications such as mobile PBX clients, or dedicated middleware for connection to back-end corporate applications. If a company’s IT department now has a mix of users with iOS, Android, Windows and other devices, connecting via Vodafone, O2, Orange and WiFi, it makes it much less likely that they will want (say) Vodafone OneNet or an Orange VPN client .
Instead, they will want applications that can work on any device (and OS/firmware build), running on any network. In other words, OTT-style functions using generic data connectivity – probably via the public Internet, but perhaps also via a dedicated connection like BlackBerry’s BES.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you can probably see what’s coming next:
If mobile operators seriously want to offer advanced mobile enterprise services, they are going to need to run them over their competitors’ networks, at least part of the time. Maybe they will be better when integrated with their own optimised device and network, but to reach the BYOD community they will need to push towards an OTT model themselves.
MNO services + BYOD + WiFi-only devices = mandatory Telco-OTT
That, needless to say, is easy neither for operators to accept, nor execute upon. Yet it will be essential, unless operators want to confine their enterprise exposure to the dwindling group of corporate-provided homogenous fleets of users.
This is one of the themes covered in Disruptive Analysis’ new report on Telco-OTT Strategies. If you're interested, contact information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com or click here