“More than cost, BYOD is about operational efficiency”

by Sohini Bagchi    Nov 06, 2012

Daisy Chittilapilly  Cisco IndiaNewer and emerging IT trends such as virtualization and unified communication (UC) are revolutionizing the workplace. To survive in this increasingly complex business environment, enterprises need to strategically deploy these technologies for better productivity and efficiency. In a recent interview with Sohini Bagchi of CXOtoday, Daisy Chittilapilly, VP, ITS, Cisco India and SAARC explains why an increased number of organizations are looking to deploy bring-your-own-device (BYOD), as part of the virtualized workplace and unified solutions and what CIOs should keep in mind while implementing these technologies.

What compels organizations to embrace BYOD? Are the cost and employee productivity benefits associated with BYOD for real?
BYOD is certainly a promising trend in the enterprise circle as it is a subset of virtualization. Today enterprises are increasingly looking to virtualize their work place and BYOD is one of the most effective ways to do so with effective policy and systems in place. The key driver of this trend is increased productivity resulting from improved employee satisfaction and mobility. As professionals would not like to leave their valuable tablets and smartphones at home, employers are leveraging on this trend. It has been noted that employees report higher satisfaction levels with such flexible work arrangements when they are given the freedom to use their devices of choice. More than the cost advantage it is the operational efficiency that companies are seeking in the increasingly complex business landscape. The cost advantage comes in the long run when it helps companies in attracting and retaining newer talents as well as improve collaboration owing to ubiquitous connectivity of these devices and anywhere access to corporate data.

What challenges are associated with BYOD in terms of security and manageability? How can CIOs address these challenges when they are implementing BYOD in their organisations?
Every technology comes with its share of challenges and BYOD would not be an exception. There are BYOD challenges associated with security, manageability and control. In several industries, there are additional compliance issues and enterprises must ensure that regulatory standards continue to be met. To enforce a completely acceptable policy within the regulated industries companies should exercise complete control of the device, alongside enterprise data and connectivity, for example implementation of mobile device management solutions that can secure the device as per the established policies.

Secondly, ensuring the security of data on the device becomes a key concern of enterprise. Earlier the concept of security was restricted but with the emergence of mobile devices and BYOD concepts, it is essential to encrypt the entire device. So, companies should go for BYOD only when their network is ready to manage the technology. The other challenge that often surfaces in enterprises is the lack BYOD preparedness in the management. When a company is looking to implement BYOD, it is essential that employees are made aware about the terms and conditions of this technology and how it can be leveraged effectively. It’s rather a change management where each one must be prepared and updated about the change. A successful BYOD implementation strategy must therefore include sound regulatory policies, enforcement as well as effective communication between management and employees to see maximum success.

Cisco has been endorsing concepts like collaboration and UC amongst organization. Has these concepts actually gained momentum in India as expected?
Collaboration applications and technologies like UC have been gaining a lot of traction in recent times, with more companies realizing the importance of seamless connectivity as well as faster productivity. UC is witnessing a high growth and in near future, we expect to see a greater momentum in the Indian market. We are already seeing enterprises across verticals adopting unified solutions for sophisticated interactive customer management operations because most companies today are going global. for example, in the ITS industry, a modern IP-based contact center runs over a company’s converged voice and data network and facilitates the complex handling of customer calls while simultaneously handling the other channels of communication such as, email, instant messaging, and Web collaboration. The rate of adoption of unified solutions and collaboration technologies will further increase with the emergence of cloud, mobility and newer forms of communication technologies with organizations continuously upgrading internal communication, collaboration and efficiency.

What are the various challenges companies face while going for unified communication solutions? What would be your advice to overcome these challenges?
Organizations deploying unified communication solutions often have certain challenges that are often the case with implementing any advanced technologies. There are enterprises reporting problem areas such as system interoperability, infrastructure readiness and user training. The first thing enterprises should understand is that UC adoption is not a single solution but a process, a culture that requires much careful planning and testing. There’s however ways to overcome such challenges and a trusted and reliable vendor like Cisco that acts as a consultant often helps in the process. It is important for an enterprise adopting UC to create a project strategy. Infrastructure readiness and interoperability often helps in the process. Therefore, CIOs need to ensure that the existing enterprise network, including servers, routers etc, are equipped to handle the additional UC load. As consultants, for example, we ensure that the UC components mesh seamlessly with the existing technologies such as PBXs and phones to minimize deployment disruptions. Often phased deployment of UC solution help enterprises understand the technology better and reap its benefits.