Cisco on Wednesday offered up findings from its "bring your own device" study and used the results as a jumping off point to announce new mobility solutions. But can Cisco carve out a niche in the nascent BYOD services space?
The Cisco IBSG Horizons Study surveyed 600 U.S. IT and business leaders to discover the benefits and complexities of allowing workers to use their own mobile devices on corporate networks. A whopping 95 percent of respondents say their organization allows employee-owned devices on the network.
The study also revealed that the average number of connected devices per knowledge worker is expected to reach 3.3 by 2014, up from an average of 2.8 in 2012. All in all, managers are balancing security and support concerns with the very real potential to reap significant cost and productivity benefits from the BYOD trend.
BYOD Meets Virtual Desktops
As Cisco sees it, BYOD is here to stay and managers are seeing the need for a more holistic approach -- an approach that is scalable and addresses mobility, security, virtualization and network policy management -- in order to keep management costs in line and realize savings.
According to Cisco IBSG, Cisco employees pay an average of $600 out-of-pocket for devices that will give them more control over their work experience. The benefits of BYOD vary based on an employee's role and work requirements. Cisco IBSG estimates that the annual benefits from BYOD range from $300 to $1,300 per employee.
While the BYOD trend gains momentum, desktop virtualization is on the rise. Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed that a majority of knowledge worker roles are suitable for desktop virtualization and 50 percent noted that their organization is in the process of implementing a desktop virtualization strategy.
Cisco's 'Smart Solutions'
Cisco's answer to the opportunity and challenge is the Cisco Unified Workspace, which allows everything that makes workers efficient and productive to move with the employee. For example, instead of an employee just having voice while on the road, Cisco can also provide workers with location and presence capabilities.
Cisco is offering a set of what it calls "Smart Solutions" to help CIOs and IT leaders increase business efficiency and remove the cost and complexity associated with mobility. The solutions are built on a common technology framework and aim to help increase employee satisfaction and productivity by enabling personnel to "work their way," helping ensure the business is highly secure and intellectual property is protected.
The portfolio includes the Cisco BYOD Smart Solution, VXI Smart Solution (a desktop virtualization system) and a Remote Expert Smart Solution to enable face-to-face consultation through video and online form sharing at work or in the home. But is this enough to give Cisco inroads in this realm of the mobility movement?
Cisco's BYOD Opportunity
We asked Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research about Cisco's Smart Solutions. He told us he thinks Cisco can find its place in the BYOD movement by addressing the challenges that occur after IT onboards a device.
"One of the problems with BYOD is that a lot of organizations think of it as simply mobile device management. But it's much broader than that. When you add 1,000 iPad users to the network, all with Facetime and downloading applications, it creates a lot of unpredictable traffic problems," Kerravala said.
"It's a challenge for Cisco right now to try to establish itself as a go-to BYOD company. If you were to ask 100 people who their most important BYOD partner is, you'd probably get 100 different answers. There is no de facto standard as far as BYOD goes. That creates a great opportunity."