BYOD in K-12 schools presents massive challenges to IT staff, administrators, and teachers
Apple firmly positioned the iPad as an education solution during its education even in New York five months ago. Even before that, many schools and districts had begun pilot programs of full on iPad deployments. The iPad provides many opportunities in education as well as some challenges.
One of those challenges is cost. That’s not a surprise, considering the number of iPads required in order to give one to each student in a district. The San Diego school district, for example, recently spending $15 million as part of its massive iPad plan that includes nearly 26,000 devices.
Given the cost of such deployments and the attention that BYOD programs have gotten in both the tech and mainstream media over the past year or so, it was only a matter of time before someone in the education technology sector began to talk up the idea of BYOD in education as a way to cut the costs associated with such deployments.
If Apple is planning a major iTunes update, IT pros have a few things on their iTunes/iOS wish list
Various reports indicate that Apple is working on a major overhaul of iTunes that it plans to launch later this year. Those reports indicate that the update will be focused on consumer-oriented features like improved app/content discovery, music and media sharing, and greater iCloud integration. There’s also the possibility that Apple might split out some iTunes features into separate apps much like the company has done in iOS – the most recent example being the Podcasts app that it launched earlier this week.
Splitting iTunes into discrete parts is an attractive prospect, particularly for businesses and IT professionals. iTunes has become a bloated hodgepodge of functionality over the years. As a result, IT departments typically face a conundrum about whether to support or even allow employees with iOS devices to use iTunes on workplace computers.
Many businesses still feel that the App Store doesn’t truly address their needs
As more and more companies move forward with BYOD programs and/or mobile strategies centered around streamlining workflows for mobile professionals, the idea of the enterprise app store has gone from being a nice add-on feature to being seen as necessity for businesses, schools, and government agencies.
Developing a strategy around mobile apps is seen as a core need by a solid majority of companies – 66% of organization are considering or implementing internal app stores according to a Sourcebits survey of over 6,000 enterprises. That doesn’t mean that actually pursuing an enterprise app store strategy is an easy prospect.
Despite some advances in volume purchasing by Apple, many companies feel that mobile app options are still sub-par for their needs, particularly when it comes to the purchasing process and volume licensing.
Mobile companies without strong customer appeal could lose big time as more and more businesses adopt BYOD.
Most discussions around BYOD and costs focus on one of two areas. The first is the cost reduction that a company might see if employees provide their own iPhones (or other devices) and pay for their own mobile plans. The second is the cost for mobile management solutions to secure and manage those personally-owned devices along with the apps and data stored on them.
Those are major concerns, but research company ARCchart recently identified a completely different cost of the BYOD trend – the revenues that device manufacturers and carriers are likely to lose as BYOD becomes a standard practice across the business world. According to ARCchart, the worldwide mobile industry could take a hit as big as $40 billion over the next four years as a result of BYOD.
Is the focus on iOS and other mobile devices becoming too big of a priority for IT?
BYOD and ever-increasing mobility are business trends that are forcing many organizations to take a fresh look at security. The idea of employees connecting from home, coffee shops, and even planes has led to an overall increasing awareness of the need to secure remote connections. At the same time, business data residing on the iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices of those employees is causing the IT industry to take a fresh look at mobile device security.
That is, of course, a good thing. With the focus on mobile security, however, many IT organizations are letting the security and overall design of their core networks to become outdated – and exposing their companies to incredible risks in the process.
Companies developing internal iOS apps need to ensure those apps don’t compromise security.
Many IT departments are under intense pressure to develop and implement a range of mobility initiatives. Those initiatives often span a range of IT disciplines. There’s the effort to develop internal apps, provide access to new and legacy systems from mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, the need to manage and support users devices as part of BYOD programs, and the need to develop customer-facing solutions like mobile-oriented sites and native apps.
With so many pressures hitting IT organizations at the same, compromises are being made because of tight deadlines and budgets. According to security expert Jeff Williams, that push to get solutions out as quickly as possible may result in solutions that have major security flaws in them.
User input is key to planning and managing a successful enterprise app store
Enterprise app stores are becoming a common feature in many business that have embraced BYOD and mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad. An enterprise app store offers two core advantages: it allows users to easily install apps developed internally and it allows IT managers and others to offer a set of recommended apps from public sources like Apple’s iOS App Store.
Given the thousands of business and productivity apps available for iOS devices (not to mention profession-specific apps in other categories), providing guidance to users can help get them started with the best tools quickly and easily. The tricky part, however, is deciding which public apps to include in an enterprise app store.
Arguing the iPad can’t access legacy IT systems often means IT is ignoring much bigger problems
Plenty of people have offered their thoughts and opinions about Microsoft’s Surface devices after the company unveiled the two tablets earlier this week. One particular thread of conversation has been what Surface means for the iPad in businesses and enterprises. One piece that stood out to me was Justin Watt’s blog post Goliath Wants David’s Market.
Watt offers an interesting and well written argument that Surface may find success in many companies because they are still using legacy applications and processes – some of which may have originated long before Windows XP and OS X and have been patched countless times to over the years or decades to continue functioning. His core argument is that many iPad users access these tools using virtual desktop solutions like Citrix Receiver. As a result, at least for some tasks, the iPad functions as a Windows tablet. That could give Surface and other Windows tablets an edge over the iPad if they can directly deal with the legacy code involved or deliver the same virtual desktop experience.
The truth, however, is that many companies are chugging along on legacy solutions that were never designed to work with devices like the iPad. In fact, some widely used legacy systems have roots that weren’t even designed to work with Windows! In many companies, IT has been able to keep the age and state of those systems under wraps. But the iPad, and now the iPad versus Surface discussion, is now pushing that dirty little secret into the light of day.
BYOD offers useful lessons for any business, even ones that don’t offer BYOD programs.
BYOD may be one of the big technology trends out there for businesses, but not every business wants or needs a BYOD program. BYOD is, of course, not a magic bullet for addressing every company’s mobile needs. It also isn’t guaranteed to deliver cost savings compared to providing employees with corporate owned and managed devices.
Companies not pursuing BYOD can still gain value from investing in some of the technology concepts and solutions that becoming a standard part of BYOD programs. After all, BYOD is one of the biggest trends of consumerized IT, but it is only one trend out of many.
Here are five key BYOD lessons that any business or organization can apply even without implementing a BYOD program.
Companies challenged by BYOD should consider Apple’s Genius Bar as a tech support model
One of concerns for IT departments as first iPhones and then iPads and other consumer-focused technologies began creeping into the workplace is how to support the personal devices and apps of employees. That issue took center stage this week as security vendor Fortinet identified that most millennial workers feel that support and security for their mobile devices and other technologies is their responsibility and not the responsibility of an employer or IT department.
What that means is that many IT departments may need to rethink what technical support means. That isn’t a new concept. Various studies and reports have shown that members of Gen-Y prefer to engage support resources using a range of technologies beyond a helpdesk phone line including email, texts, and social networks. As this new vision of support emerges, one model for the future help desk is the Genius Bar from Apple’s retail stores.