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What is your BYOD strategy?

Posted on: 17 July '12

In this blog, let’s discuss about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the enterprise is leading solution providers to offer their services in all possible formats. LinkedIn recently launched its HTML 5 app called Touch, but unfortunately targeted only a select range of devices. With limited device support, its HTML 5 app does not hold much future as it works on only those platforms that already have a native app, a redundant solution.

Many ISVs face a similar challenge – should I build my product on all platforms or, should I take the web – mobile web route? Both have different merits and limitations. One can have the solution engineered for select platforms and hope that these platforms find audience with the end user it is targeting. In the volatile space mobility has found itself in, lack of standards and the rush to support multiple devices are creating more challenges. One option is to go with HTML5 based mobile web applications that can be used with any HTML5 compatible browser, be it on desktop or on devices. This strategy is fraught with its own challenges as it has to live with one limitation that is widely considered as its strength of HTML – a compatible browser!

Mobile devices bring their own challenges in terms of security, ease of use and connectivity. Offline functionalities are gaining ground, and there is an unprecedented demand to use the functionalities on a mobile. Smartphone adoption is also different in geographies and is seeing a shift. Blackberry, once a sought-after device by executives, has lost the edge today. Android has made huge inroads and Windows phone, the new entry, is giving increasing competition to other players, not to mention the use of tablets in enterprises. Form factor, compatibility issues and usability has come to the fore. HTML5 has added to the confusion and businesses find it difficult to realize a policy that would take them to next level in mobility. The need of the hour is to understand where the target customers are leaning towards, and provide a solution that would not only suite the current needs, but also help in developing functionalities and a roadmap for the future.

HTML5 is gaining ground and is here to stay, and so are the native solutions on individual platforms. Product Management, Business, Sales and Customer Support will have to sit together and formalize a policy that would be beneficial both to the organization and the customer. This should take the form of a technical product roadmap which has nothing to do with the functional product roadmap, but lists down the platforms it will support. This also provides direction and agility to the engineering team to build functionality and components accordingly.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an option that is gaining popularity which helps maintain a single source of content while serving different devices, browsers and form factors. Hybrid approach – using HTML5 and Javascript for native capabilities is another option that can be considered. There are some middleware platforms that support Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA). But as we all know, there is nothing called the silver bullet and WORA will have the least common denominator as a limiting factor.

Today, IT is being consumerized. Gone are the days where enterprises had standard hardware and devices. Now, everyone has a mobile device, be it a smartphone or a tablet and the demand is forever increasing for the available apps. A good strategy to support BYOD, with or without HTML5, would go a long way in meeting these challenges and help to create a mindshare. This will help companies to create the much needed customer loyalty. Let us face it – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is here to stay! What’s your take on it?

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  • HN Shankar

    Useful article

  • Thanks Shankar.

  • Narayanan Sattanathan

    Nice Article. Very Informative.

  • Thanks Narayanan. Glad you liked it!

  • Venkat G

    Nice view RR.

    Here I would like to share two different instances to map how powerful the “proliferation of mobile (other) devices”.

    1. Today I came across a Facebook photo share. It was pictured like a young man using laptop as shaving mirror. More to it was it is title “Think different”.
    2. My 3 year old son was swiping his hand in desktop monitor, expecting to kill angry bird, the exact way he is playing in mobile IGNORING keyboard and mouse.

    By looking these both, at least monitor found a funny use but the TYPEWRITER prototype device – keyboard – may need another “think different” case.

    In current scenario, most of the HW vendors are moving away from manufacturing laptop while desktop is almost not visible in any advertisements. Gartner projects that BYOD going to be de-facto working culture by 2015. From bigger cycle view of Alvin Toffler, knowledge economy shall have such simple working culture.

    For organization, it may not be wise to use the capital money for such soon-to-be obsolete assets. Building application for old devices and maintaining such devices are going to cost more than its purchase price and yet going to keep employee satisfaction at bay.

    On solution front, HTML 5 seems to be better option but it has some concern like specification is in draft version for many years and security of implementation.

    There seems to be alternate started floating like write in one language/framework (yet to give right name to this converged mix – much more than responsive web ) and target many devices. Mobile applications are now even ready to replace the online/offline link. For e.g. mobile applications like read-it-later can share/link from many application other than browsers. Any more delay in HTML 5 specification, may further fuel these wild creativity / silver bullets.

    Still there is a long way to go for filling the gap created by a “Document markup language-html” and new found “APPS”, and providing lot of innovation opportunities while the HW is phasing out.

  • Munish K Gupta

    There are 2 different points here

    1. First is the impact of BYOD on the existing enterprise applications and how they will evolve.

    2. Second, as an enterprise what should be your strategy to develop mobile applications – whether go the native apps way or develop html5 based web solutions.

    Both the points require different strategy and impact the enterprise and service providers differently.

    I had blogged about both the points here

    that will throw additional food for thought.

  • @ Munish – though the strategy for both options you listed can be different, the way to achieve and prioritize are similar.

  • @Venkat – Thanks for elaborating on the issues facing ISVs and enterprises. As of now, we have tools and frameworks that work in isolation to solve some of the issues but a standard is still a long way to go and hence a need for trade-off and a strategy.

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