Every technology vendor, reseller, integrator, and general geek wondering what comes after BYOD can rest easy: there is another acronym waiting in the wings. For BYOD, now read BYOA – bring your own app.
Just as many employees have become impatient with outdated corporate hardware and brought their own phones and tablets to work, they are now using mobile consumer apps such as Dropbox and Evernote in the office.
These consumer apps are not designed for the corporate environment; their use involves transferring data, often storing it in a public cloud.
This is why analysts have predicted a move to enterprise app stores within organisations, providing a resource that holds a selection of apps that have been approved for use by IT departments.
And this is where BYOA becomes an interesting proposition. If, instead of bringing your own apps, BYOA began also to stand for building your own apps, a new IT opportunity emerges.
Can you really run the front end of a company on bespoke apps? Naturally, there are some drawbacks that need consideration.
Although potentially cheaper than a new server-based application, home-developed company-specific apps will need some investment – particularly if complex situations need to be covered by the development.
Business-developed apps will really come into their own in helping mitigate the information and data security risk presented by BYOD.
Single-task-style apps may enable organisations to limit access to users who need them. For example, an HR department might provide holiday request software to all staff, but the approval functionality may be supplied only to specific line managers.
This access may be restricted both to specific systems and within any given system.
In terms of benefits, it will be more cost-effective and probably quicker to tweak an in-house app than to change to a different large enterprise system.
Also, customised in-house apps may use first-hand input from employees who actually do the work every day. This could help match the software features to actual business functions and processes much more closely, therefore helping sustain and improve productivity.
Some large corporations are already building their own app stores. General Electric in the US has in-house developers building mobile software for in-house use on tablets and smartphones.
It has created its own web portal, the GE Mobile App Store, to make it easy for users to find and download apps.
Channel partners can help SMBs, wherever they are along the BYOD journey, to develop a long-term strategy that gives them the option to integrate business apps at some stage, even if their business isn't ready to do so now.
Key to this is understanding usability. The point of an app is to make things simple, so businesses need to assess which enterprise applications can be adapted into a more modularised format.
And this of course needs to go hand in hand with a network that has the security, bandwidth and resilience to support a mobile workforce.
The past few years have shown us that to succeed now and in the future, businesses need to be prepared to update and reinvent themselves to address constantly evolving markets.
Running on apps could help them achieve this agility. Even those not yet ready to make such a leap should be prepared.
Jamie Marshall is chief technology officer of Calyx
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