Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is a trend gaining a lot of traction in the enterprise.  BYOD is the business policy of allowing employees to bring their personal mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to their place of work and using those devices for work activities.

These work activities include accessing privileged company resources such as email, file servers and databases as well as working with their personal applications and data.

With estimates of up to 90% of employees using their own devices to conduct work duties, BYOD is a practice that frankly cannot be stopped; instead, IT management must learn how to embrace it effectively.

In most organizations using BYOD, employees have freedom to choose their own devices, but in others, where security is at a premium, the organization may make the purchase of the devices, especially if they are costly.

IT departments are therefore, urgently (and in some case, frantically) developing BYOD policies and programs to support smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.

However, to justify the ongoing investment in these programs IT personnel must better understand the costs, benefits, and impacts of BYOD program implementation across the corporation.

Windows 8, particularly in its emphasis on mobile form factors, faces an uncertain future in the BYOD era.  The same set of assumptions that once trailed Windows releases no longer applies, as far as IT departments are concerned.

BYOD by its very definition, frees employees from corporate strictures and allows them to make their own selections.

Increased interoperability between platforms, particularly when cloud computing is thrown in, makes the adherence to a particular OS or device an anachronism.

Microsoft will therefore have to fight for the user’s (employee’s) choice on a playing field that is dramatically different from the past, and where the established OS giants are for once, not Microsoft, but instead Apple and Google.

Here’s what we know about who’s currently winning the mobile battle in the enterprise.  According to Computerworld, an IDC study shows that total employee- and corporate-owned BlackBerry shipments into the enterprise this year will reach 20 million units. Total iPhone shipments will exceed 68 million units. Android shipments will top all others, with 102 million units shipped.

Clearly then, Android and iOS are winning the battle in the enterprise just based on pure sales numbers.  They have both outstripped sales of the old market leader (RIM’s Blackberry), and based on the scale of sales, BYOD is not only here, it is widespread.

In its own report, Forrester did not see Windows 8 playing a major role in this new market. Microsoft must take that statement as an opportunity however, not a given fact.

Microsoft can build on several things  to raise both its profile and market share in the BYOD market.  For a start, it can become less confrontational with Google and more cooperative.

While is has less control over what employees buy and use at work, it can work its corporate relationships and leverage its reputation to positively affect employer-purchased devices.

It can also target the weaknesses of its two competitors, iOS and Android.  Apple is famously uncooperative in regards to changing their standards and configurations to fit corporate demands.

Android on the hand, suffers from being open source, with all the attendant fragmentation and security concerns that have accompanied it.

Microsoft can build on this by offering both flexibility and one Windows distribution (OK three actually; 8, RT and WP8), together with security, especially at the back end, with Windows servers.

That is a start.  The rest will be a tough slog but it is too early to write Microsoft off in the BYOD market.

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  • Sophie smith

    Uphill battle. Apple is so entrenched in the enterprise now. Wouldn’t it make sense that employees who bring their own devices would then simply reflect the market leaders in the consumer market? It will be a tough fight for msoft, unlike any they have ever faced…. And they may not win.