CYOD: Balancing Uniform and Freeform?

Have you ever driven by a school where the students are in uniforms?

The rationale is that having students wear the same, pre-approved clothes lets the school control variables they see as disruptive to the school experience. The trade-off leaves students often feeling like their individuality and personal comfort is compromised.

If you have followed the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the enterprise arena at all, you’ll see where this is going.

If you go with a traditional model, businesses mandate and provide uniform hardware and software and can control security while ensuring a standardized user experience.

That changes quite a bit with BYOD: Employees are used to a wide array of devices and usually have a strong preference for what they utilize. They already know the ins-and-outs of the device, software and user interface and are much more comfortable and productive “in their own clothes,” so to speak.

CYOD pic

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A happy medium?

A third option is emerging: Choose Your Own Device, (or CYOD).

It seems a perfect half-and-half solution giving back some of the control to the IT department, making management easier and security policies more enforceable while also giving employees some choice.

A CYOD policy would see employees allowed to choose from a menu of company-owned (and configured) devices.

However, it involves a great many compromises, between user experience and security; IT management and user choice.

User (Employee) Experience

With BYOD, there isn’t a “standard” user experience. Some devices have overlapping apps and features while others are more proprietary, and the security features may differ. It can be a quagmire for an IT department to manage. Each device is wholly owned by the employee and personalized to the degree that user chooses.

The benefits lie in the possibility of happy employees

and the fact that other than IT costs, the company doesn’t have to foot the bill for the equipment. This makes more sense if employees work remotely all or part of the time.

The opposite extreme – giving everyone the same model of device with a standardized software suite – guarantees a uniform user experience, although employees may still have their gripes.

Suitability for business app use

Are the devices are suitable for business apps?

This is becoming less relevant as processing power increases and the BYOD trend circles back to device capabilities. Each platform wants to nail the mix of “work” and “play” capabilities, but a minimum standard has to be set.

Is the device capable of acceptable video conferencing? Is the interface conducive to creating and handling various forms of documentation? Can the materials be easily backed up and sent out?

Businesses typically start with iOS devices (iPhone/iPad) and work their way out when it comes to CYOD. The addition of an official Microsoft Office suite to the platform makes this more suitable for enterprise.

Adding Android as an acceptable platform is slightly more challenging because of the vast number of “Android” devices. Narrowing it down to, say, Samsung Galaxy devices, could simplify things.

Security, version control and regulation

Is it possible to have an acceptable layer of security over what is meant to be a mass-market device’s OS? Data leakage is a big issue.

Do apps “break” when frequent OS updates are pushed out? Are various versions compatible with each other? Unlike a PC or Mac, there can be many updates to a mobile OS within a single year.

What about regulation? Can a user back up a device on their home computer, and then essentially clone it to a new device after leaving it to a company, or can a company remotely “kill” the partition on a laptop pending termination, or have the apps and other features uninstall given a remote command without extending to personal data?

These questions should factor into whether a company wants to employ a BYOD scheme.

With CYOD, the devices return to the company, and since they’re company-owned, they can be configured appropriately.

Productivity gains and losses

With the adoption of iOS and Android as the two dominant mobile platforms, a wide range of entertainment apps began sitting side-by-side with productivity and enterprise programs. What’s to keep employees from watching movies or sports or playing games, and how can a company monitor that activity?

BYOD’s challenge here is that these devices belong to the employees. They know how to use these devices and use them for everything. Businesses are typically blind to the activity that occurs on an employee-owned mobile device.

Having a CYOD policy, while not a perfect solution, might be able to largely placate both sides.

You minimize the employee concerns of familiarity with a device and capabilities while addressing the company’s legitimate needs. Productivity and usage can be monitored, and people will likely be mindful that they are “on the clock” while utilizing a company device.

Is CYOD the best fit for your company?

Ultimately, BYOD isn’t going away. Some companies are pushing this outright while others are being dragged in kicking and screaming. Technology research firm Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices.

CYOD co-opts the general idea of employee choice while returning a measure of control to businesses. Whether the cost of purchasing and maintaining these devices is worth it comes down to the company and what it feels is the right approach.

As employee expectations shift, companies can adapt and channel that energy or go with the old “uniform” approach.

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Avaya Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Avaya is honored to be recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure worldwide. Avaya has been the only vendor having the distinction of being named a Leader for 16 consecutive years. Each year the research organization creates a market view of key players for business users, reflecting business goals, needs, and priorities.

Contact centers have gone beyond phone calls with customers now expecting to communicate on their terms via text, IM, email, chat or video. For the past 16 years Avaya has created seamless and highly personalized experiences, building brand loyalty for companies all around the world.

According to Deloitte, 85% of organizations view customer experience provided through contact centers as a competitive differentiator. Todays companies must remain relevant by creating a single interface to connect customers with the correct resource each time, supporting their preferences. Supervisors and managers need real-time performance information to adapt immediately to situations to ensure optimized customer experience.

Avaya has focused its efforts on creating next-generation contact center solutions, creating communication strategies enabling a continuous transition between channels during customer interactions.

Please visit Gartner’s page to read the full report and see how Avaya’s Contact Center infrastructure continues to deliver best-of-breed Contact Center applications. We look forward to continuing innovation and leading business communications for the digital age.


Seeing into the Office of the Future

Dubai is heavily focused on delivering on its Smart City goals, with the goal of being among the smartest—and happiest—cities in the world. The drive toward smart cities is part of a wider shift, with countries around the globe seeing a migration from rural areas to urban. With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, organizations in the Middle East are facing increasingly difficult decisions about how they allocate resources and manage their workforce.

For a city like Dubai, that can be challenging. Finding the right real-estate location for office space, managing energy usage and providing physical workspaces for employees working different shifts in a modern, 24X7 city creates its fair share of headaches. Enterprises also have to cope with an increasing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture, with smartphone and device penetration especially high in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries.

We have reached an inflection point where the number of devices connected and generating data is accelerating at an exponential level. Our work environments are beginning to blur, as workspaces are no longer physical but virtual. Organizations need to deliver a consistent work experience whether in an office or on the road, or at home. The key driver is to intuitively connect not only communications devices, but interact with the ambient technologies that surround us, like lighting, BMS and signage.

At Avaya, we believe that the Smart Enterprise is one of the key building blocks for smart cities—and one of the foundations of true Smart Enterprise development will be what we term the Office of the Future. This is about more than just technology; the Office of the Future involves automating work processes within the enterprise to deliver a more intuitive employee experience. As with any “smart” solution, the Office of the Future is only smart if it resolves the challenges it aims to address.

So what do we mean by Office of the Future? Imagine walking into a new office you’ve never visited before and your work station is ready before you sit down, configured to your preferences, right down to the air conditioning settings and digital signage displayed with your identity. When a client arrives to meet you at the office, they can be sent to a meeting room automatically, and you can talk to them on their mobile as you walk to greet them.

With Avaya solutions, the act of an employee booking a workspace would kick start a workflow that immediately sets up that space with all communication devices enabled and connected securely, while interacting with the building management system to ensure the environment was set to the employee’s requirements, everything from lighting to temperature to digital signage. The employee could be identified by their phone or a card ID. When they leave, the workspace can be reset for the next employee that reserves it.

Such Smart workspaces will help enterprises manage their resources more effectively, better leverage their real estate investments, and improve employee well-being and productivity. Here in Dubai, the Office of the Future starts now.

89% of Employees Apparently Don’t Care About Mobile Security

Mobile Security Avaya

IT security has a big job: keep corporate data safe in the face of motivated hackers and unaware employees. Today that job is harder than ever — employees are bringing their own devices and applications into the office every morning, and walking out the door with corporate data every night.

The intention behind Bring Your Own Device and Bring Your Own Apps is good: Employees want to be productive away from the office. No one wants to carry around two smartphones, or truck around two laptops while they’re on the road. Cloud-based work apps excel at document version control, are accessible everywhere, and help teams cut down on email as a collaboration tool.

The reality of BYOD and BYOA is more troublesome: If your company is one of the estimated 26 percent with no official BYOD policy in place, employees will load work email and work documents on their personal mobile devices anyway. If a company fails to give their employees the cloud-based apps they want, they’ll simply use the app’s consumer-grade version. Thousands of unsecured laptops and smartphones get lost or stolen every week. It’s estimated that 43 percent of U.S. companies have experienced a data breach in the last year alone.

Troubling numbers

Given that backdrop, ask yourself — how many mobile devices are out there with your company’s data on them? The answer might surprise you.

In a recent survey of more than 12,000 people, security software maker Kaspersky Lab found roughly half used personal smartphones, tablets or laptops for work, 36 percent kept work files on their personal devices, 34 percent accessed work-related email from personal devices, and somewhere between 11 to 18 percent carried around corporate passwords.

Asked about it, just 11 percent said they were seriously concerned about keeping work-related information secure on their personal mobile devices.

If your company doesn’t have formal policies in place around personal mobile devices, chances are, your corporate data is already heading home with employees each night. BYOD and BYOA are just the start— Bring Your Own Everything is on the horizon.

Embracing the present

The first step is to either build a BYOD and BYOA policy, or review your existing policies to keep them up-to-date.

Employees are already using their own devices and apps inside the workplace — in an April 2015 report, Netskope found the average organization is now using 730 cloud-based applications. If that number seems high, it may be time to audit the software your teams are using, and determine if sensitive corporate information is at risk of being lost in the cloud.

Next, give employees the secure tools they need to use the devices and apps they choose. Different teams may choose different engagement software based on their individual needs. Mandating the entire company standardize on a single, monolithic software platform or official device is unrealistic, and may encourage “shadow IT,” where teams ignore official channels and adopt the tools that work for them.

Information silos are dangerous. At best, silos hinder company engagement by preventing teams from getting the information they need to make informed decisions easily. At worst, silos force employees to kluge together a solution — for example, emailing data across the company in spreadsheets.

Breaking information silos apart is possible with software like the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, which allows companies to write custom code that either communication-enables their existing apps, or builds new apps to share data between silos.

Lastly, smart companies adopt multiple layers of security, knowing that data breaches are just as likely to come from within the company than without.  Firewalls are not enough — network access must be segmented and role-based.

In a widely-publicized data breach last year, a major U.S. retailer admitted it had lost millions of consumer credit card numbers after it gave its HVAC vendor access to wide swaths of the company’s corporate network. Hackers breached the vendor, and used their network credentials to raid the retailer’s credit card database, which was sitting in a section of the network that an HVAC company should not have been able to access.

Virtualized, software-defined networking makes role-based network access easy, reduces the size of the network’s footprint of endpoints and obscures portions of the network from hackers. Individual devices, applications and endpoints are provisioned dynamically, with network access extending and retracting as needed.

BYOD and BYOA represent the new reality for enterprises. Take proactive steps to review your company’s BYOD and BYOA policies, give employees the tools to allow this trend, share information securely between applications and gain more control over the corporate network.

Want more? Download the new Avaya white paper, “The New Rules of Engagement.”