Embracing BYOD and Interoperability

Tablet, mac and smartphone with Video faces

BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device” is the concept of a business enabling employees to use their own technology in the workplace, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Enabling flexibility and an improved user experience, the BYOD trend reduces the need for IT to keep up with all the new technology available on the market on a monthly and yearly basis, decreasing expenditure and complexity, and improves collaboration and productivity by enabling a much more flexible and mobile way of working. A successful BYOD company lays the foundation for BYOD, through implementing a BYOD policy, wireless LAN’s, dynamic controls and ensuring the network is prepared for future demands and technologies.

Of course, there are also challenges and risks associated with BYOD – where IT have previously driven and chosen the technology, the consumerisation of IT has shifted this culture, meaning a huge array of issues have arisen around control over the network, security of data and compliance with safeguarding policies, to name a few. In fact, about 60% of workers today already access company data on their mobile devices, but only 30% of organisations have processes and tools in place to securely and properly manage them.

But with the huge number of benefits BYOD can bring to an organisation, it is imperative that businesses and IT departments embrace the shift through implementing the correct policies and technologies from the onset – if not fully understood and managed, BYOD can threaten IT security… but properly regulated, can enable major savings now and into the future.

70% of mobile professionals will conduct work on their personal laptops, smartphones and tablets by 2018″

– Gartner Inc

How can Video Conferencing and BYOD come together?

All of the leading Video Conferencing & Collaboration technology manufacturers have taken the BYOD bull by the horns, with many available apps for mobile and tablets, laptop software, and through the utilisation of WebRTC in the browser.

Enabling BYOD for Conferencing and Collaboration is completely possible both through on-premise technologies and through the cloud. As with any type of deployment, the cloud vs on-premise benefits and drawbacks stand, and the choice you make generally won’t effect your ability to connect your teams remotely or when on the move – just the implementation will be different.

Mobile Video Conferencing Solutions

Web Applications & Browser Conferencing

Many IT departments have policies in place to prevent unauthorised applications and software from being downloaded onto work devices. Similarly, employees may not wish to or be able to, and no longer need to download new software to enable high quality Video Conferencing and Collaboration on their devices.

With WebRTC, video, audio and data sharing happens straight within the browser. Although WebRTC still has a way to go to get itself perfect (for example, it works better in some browsers e.g. Firefox or Chrome – than others e.g. Safari or Internet Explorer),  it is a very promising way for external employees or ad-hoc guests to engage with your organisation, without needing to route through a phone system or Video network.

However many companies will not wish to use WebRTC as their central way of communications – it’s difficult to control quality and performance, and does lack the control and security normally associated with VoIP. Best for saving for those situations where other technologies, such as those below, aren’t suitable options e.g. guests or customer contact via your website, where they probably don’t have access to a professional solution, for example.

iPad, Smartphone and laptops with Video Collaboration

Mobile Apps for iOS & Android

Generally available for iOS and Android (less so for Windows, for now), the world of Video Conferencing and Collaboration has a whole plethora of mobile apps for tablets and smartphones. Of course, there are consumer apps, such as FaceTime, Skype and Hangouts, however for professional quality and control, and the ability to talk to anyone (not just those with the same app as you!), it’s important to choose a solution that provides a standard-based mobile app, preferably one that seamlessly integrates with your network, meeting room components and VoIP system.

Solutions such as the Lifesize Cloud, which isn’t just an app, but includes Web App, Laptop software and room systems too, provides a simple, secure and seamless way of extending the conference room experience to any employee on the go – it’s just like carrying a conference room Video Conferencing system in your pocket.

Plus with solutions from Pexip, Polycom, Cisco and BlueJeans, all providing their own apps to integrate with their services (and enable you to communicate with other services too), and most working professionals around the globe carrying at least one smart device, the ability for the world to mobile Video Conferencing is pretty much there. Just don’t make the boardroom seasick!

Pexip Infinity Mobile Application

The Pexip Infinity Mobile application with meeting control

It is, however, a good idea to select a solution that can also interoperate with the likes of Skype, for enabling access by those external clients that may only have or use Skype on their devices. Skype may not talk directly to Cisco, for example, however manufacturers such as Cisco have implemented technology to enable it to work, as seamlessly as they can.

Laptop & PC software

Whether using a Mac or Windows laptop, it’s important that the software provides the same user experience whatever the device, it works anywhere, and employees have access to all the features they need to successfully collaborate and communicate with their teams, whether based in the office, at home or from a cafe.

Depending upon the features and functionality your teams require, there are many professional options available that can be scaled and extended as your business and needs grow. Does your organisation hold a lot of web conferences? Do your teams have large scheduled meetings or need the ability to call on an ad-hoc basis, directly into a meeting space? What about content sharing and remote collaboration? Do you need to record and archive conferences for training, auditing or future reference?

Lifesize Cloud with Multipoint Conference on Laptop

Getting your employees to us a solution that reflects the needs and goals of the business is key, whether on the laptop, desktop, mobile or in the conference room. However when it comes to BYOD, many employees may not understand the need to use the common technology you wish to implement across your business, so it’s important to educate and assist where possible, to ensure everyone is comfortable, and using a platform that connects with everyone else, without lack of major features such as access to the company directory for calling their colleagues, or recording to your on-premise recording server.

Simplicity is key. With a great user interface that uses recognisable buttons, prompts and chimes, and software that manages the current firewall it sits behind (a few years ago, sitting in Starbucks and attempting to transfer video content just wasn’t possible), the software of choice for these portable devices can vastly improve your team’s ability to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Lifesize Video Conferencing Solutions

Meeting Room Systems & “in the office”

BYOD is great, but when in the office or conference room, it’s imperative that the technology in place is suitable for the size, shape and needs of the room, and Video Conferencing on a mobile device of course, is not the answer.

However, there are two important things to understand when it comes to BYOD and the meeting room.

  1. Your choice of collaborative meeting room solutions needs to integrate seamlessly with your employees choice of smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC’s, and the apps and software you have chosen to use on them, so everyone in any situation can connect – the meeting room to the desktop, the remote workers with the office workers, the boardroom with the homeworking CEO.
  2. The mobile devices used by employees need to be able to be brought into the meeting room, and used as a collaborative tool within the space to improve the user experience. That could include features that enable conferences to be moved from the mobile device onto the boardroom system with a simple swipe, used to control the meeting as a “touch controller” or perhaps enable the user to immediately share content from their own BYOD device, such as a laptop, with those at the far end of the professional conference, wirelessly.

Implementing a collaborative solution that combines the meeting room endpoints with mobile devices, seamlessly, can have huge productivity benefits for your workforce. For example, the Lifesize Icon series combined with the Lifesize Cloud provides a connected experience between those in the meeting room and remote colleagues, and ensures the highest quality conference can take place when needed, with the functionality and features expected with a business Collaboration solution.

BYOD and Mobile devices

When looking into BYOD and collaboration for your teams, it isn’t just about choosing a specific app, or specific piece of software. By choosing a platform and solution that combines all of the above, and allows users to use whatever device they choose, without worry, and ensuring the right tools, policies and underlying technologies are in place to meet your business goals and requirements, your business will see the real benefits of BYOD and ensure continuously improved collaboration, productivity and efficiency across your workforce.

Talk to our Business Analysts today to discuss BYOD, collaborative mobile solutions and integration solutions that enable anyone to connect, from anywhere, at anytime – securely and effectively. Or book a visit to our BYOD and mobile demonstration suite, to see iOS, Android, Macs, Windows, codecs and collaborative technologies working side by side in a real-world environment.

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