BYOD great news for vendors
Shorter upgrade cycles in the corporate space mean big opportunities for sales of consumer devices
Blogs | 03 Oct 2012 :
In my column last week, almost in passing, I wondered whether a significant by-product of the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon could be a big increase in the turnover of devices. I have to confess that, despite all the hype surrounding BYOD and consumerisation, it wasn't something that had occurred to me before.
To date, most people have been dependent on their employer to replace their work equipment, be it a PC or notebook. That replacement process has been tied to the corporate timetable for upgrading IT equipment, usually every three years or so. Ironically, this may actually have been a shorter period than many of those employees had for their home PCs or laptops.
To take my own example, a 2006 iMac model still serves as my office machine and our house iMac is a mid-2007 model. So far, there has been no pressing requirement to replace either of them. The only real change is that both of them have bigger hard drives than they came with originally.
So, you could advance an argument suggesting that if people were left to their own devices (see what I did there?) with BYOD, the hardware upgrade cycle would actually be longer than it is for corporate and business machines. Logically, there's no reason why it shouldn't be if, in the end, all that happens is the employer delivers a corporate user experience to whatever device the employee happens to be using at the time.
But, and it's one of those big buts that you can't deny, that would ignore what's driving the BYOD trend in the first place. After all, consumerisation isn't a new term. It's been bandied around for a while now but, until recently, it hasn't gained much traction, primarily because it was often nothing more than a very broad way of referring to the process by which a director had bought a MacBook Pro and wanted to use it on the network as their primary business machine.
The difference now is that BYOD refers to a much more democratic process (if such a thing as democracy can be said to exist within any workplace) because it's about incorporating devices used by a much wider range of people than just the directors. This is down to the phenomenal growth in sales of smartphones and tablets which has considerably widened the pool of IT(ish) devices that can potentially have a dual business/home use. Many employees have bought their own devices and find the possibility of being able to use them for their work rather than be tied to a staid, grey PC, very attractive.
Proponents of BYOD describe this as a win-win situation because the employee gets to use a device he or she wants to use (probably making him or her more productive in the process and happier) while the business saves the cost of buying the equipment it would have been required to provide for the employee to do his or her job.
It could also be a winning situation for hardware vendors too, at least for those who do a good job of making and selling tablets and smartphones. To take my example, the computers in our house may be at least five years old but I have an iPad (last year) and an iPhone (last year too). It's likely I could get another iPad next year and upgrade my iPhone. In other words, as I suggested in last week's column, the replacement cycle for tablets and smartphones is likely to be considerably shorter than it is for PCs and laptops. Overall, employees would probably spend more on equipment than if their choice was confined to PCs or laptops. If I was a hardware vendor, I know what I'd be looking at right now.