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Freed of BYOD, how can you finally make mobility productive?

I BYOD, you BYOD, he BYODs… The world of computing is an inexhaustible source of newly created or reinvented words. Rarely for the better and often for the worse. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is one of the latest pipe dreams to come from America.

Conceived at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the concept came about after a presentation by a major American software manufacturer, who demonstrated the technological feat of associating two types of totally different environments on the same workstation. The best example for illustrating this was a professional and personal environment coexisting on the same computer. From a technological point of view the demonstration was a success. It was then very convenient to prophesy how this was going be used in future:  employees would come to work with their personal computers and the IT department would install the company tools on them in an isolated environment.

Well excuse me, I’m sorry to spoil the party, but what an incredibly harebrained idea! Even though I am  a fan of technology  and pretty much up to date  as well as a promoter of a technology capable of  supporting BYOD,   I still don’t have it in me to ride roughshod over several decades of corporate social responsibility reforms. In the name of what principle – republican, I might add if I was making a fiery political speech – should we ask our employees to pay for a computer with their own money, to maintain it, and to bring it to the office in order to be able to work? Usually, any confusion between the professional and the personal sphere turns out to be the detriment of the employee.

The second objection is of a technical nature. It works. However, what does an IT director gain by accepting hardware that he does not control, whose content and antivirus protection is by definition unreliable, when these days, the threat level has never been higher?

Let’s face it, in the microcomputer Stone Age, our grandmothers were forced to accept plastic hulks (otherwise known as PCs) just so they could chat with the family offspring studying on the other side of the world. Last Christmas they found a magnificent tablet under the Christmas tree which let them do everything they wanted without needing the aspirins or antidepressants usually needed by any PC user who is not a computer professional. And so tablets have more and more taken over the role of the home computer. Which is just as it should be. However to then imagine that this excellent Internet and multimedia tool can become a tool for the professional world that employees can take into the office… This would mean going back one or two decades in terms of user productivity, that’s how meaningless the idea of porting professional applications onto this environment is.

Let’s dispel the illusion of BYOD by simply thinking a little bit harder: maybe BYOD is just a red herring after all, focusing our attention on the hardware?

The heart of a company employee’s activity is centered on his application environment. The real question should be: how can I access my applications, be they professional or personal or, taking it a step further,  how can I connect to my professional or personal virtual office, any time, any place without carrying my computer or my tablet around with me?

Tick-tock… does that give a clue? The answer is in your pocket right now. A paperclip? No, but maybe in 20 years it could be. Your smartphone? Excellent answer. At this point in reading this article, you have probably asked yourselves, here he goes, pitching us an indigestible speech of the smartphone on which we can run virtualized applications without even realizing it, using the same approach that he criticized tablets for just a few moments ago. A virtualized professional application, with hundreds of interfaces, that works better on a smartphone than on tablet?

No way! Consider a smartphone. Imagine just one instant, an application on your smartphone which, once it has been authenticated, gives you access to your applications or your professional and personal virtual desktops. Then, by simply sliding your finger, you can take one of your applications, or your virtual desktop, and start executing it on the first available hardware resource. A TV at home, a PC in the office, a Mac on the couch, a Windows PC in the palace, a Linux PC in the hotel, a clean PC in the nearest café, a PC being spied-on in a café far away, a tablet at the airport or a tablet in bed! You can do all this without ever authenticating yourself on the hardware which displays your environment because you are authenticated on your smartphone. And then mobility truly becomes productive.