For a short while, there was talk of the "BYOD phenomenon," when enterprises saw their employees skip the official mobile device, often at the employee's own willing expense, for something different. Yes the official device was secure and free, but it was also stodgy, underfeatured, and incompatible with expansions and applications when compared with what was sparkling on store shelves and at CES.
Well, BYOD is a standard today, with mobile workers patching their favored smartphone, tablet, or laptop (and as we saw at CES2015, the wearables are coming!) into the corporate network. But the device is just part of the story. Distributed working has jumped from BYO "Device" to "Workplace", because workers are being thrown into locations, configurations, personal environments, and even networks of the employee's own choosing. And it's not just those wild workers: the organization itself is launching into new directions with the adoption of configurations like open workspaces, "huddle" rooms for two or four people, hotelling, and formal home office policies.
So BYOW (I think it's pronounced "Bee-YOW!") is the new reality. Let's try it on for a moment:
Everyday: A lot of our people BYOW.
Present tense: Look at ME, I'm BYOW'ing!
Used in a narrative: and then she BYOW'd it
The traditionalist, trying to sound hip: The kids are doing the BYOW.
Formal: The BYO Workplace (like, if you're writing a whitepaper)
The advertiser: Do you BYOW?
Yup, that works.
Just as IT organizations were catching up to the challenges of BYOD, they again find themselves in a tailchase to maintain security and reliability in the BYOW world. Management wants workers in these less-monitored places to look and sound professional when engaging in company business, and not spill the company jewels through unsecured connections. But employees are unlikely to be willing to talk to their GF/BF via device A and service A, kids via B+B and co-workers with C+C. Three endpoints and three services? Ha. They all have to converge - at the minimum, to interoperate.
This can be done, but BYOW success requires a bit of introspection from the enterprise too - for one thing, the enterprise needs to be clear about its own goals: which are the requirements, which only its preferences? Defining a needed level of security, for example, is a fair requirement; mandating only one specific device may be a preference but is unlikely to be an acceptable requirement.
How do we sort out this array of BYOW needs? A good way is to split these needs into two groups: subjective, how do users sound and look; and objective, does it meet the organization's standards of security and reliability.
The latter is increasingly well understood these days, and IT departments are well aware of the most popular devices and how to keep them secure on the network.
It's the wide range of environments where workplaces now exist that demands an extra understanding and some extra genius. Calling into a meeting ten time zones away from a cluttered corner at home with the lights turned off so the kids can sleep, or from a shared workspace, with a window blazing in the background and a low roar of surrounding conversations, are two typical challenges of this new "work from anywhere" freedom. BYOW doesn't give users the same controlled environment as an enterprise headquarters, and this means that the tools have to step forward and take up the slack.
One of the things I love about Polycom is that a tight focus on user needs and user environments has been a primary focus here for our whole life. It's not a sideline, it's our business and our passion. The people here have understood these emerging challenges for a long time, and have recently been transforming some really genius-scale lab stuff into robust solutions that meet them. They're emerging this year - some, like the Acoustic Bubble that converts an existing Polycom desktop phone into private acoustic space for openspace workers and call centers, is already available, Or the Acoustic Fence, that extends that concept into whole open areas. There's lots more coming.
These next-generation solutions build on existing architectures and investments (and existing BYOD's) as well as facilitate forward growth. They are really. Clever. Stuff.
This is going to be a very fun year.