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Former Member
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Bringing your own lunch to work or beer to a party has always been a simple way of dealing with costs and personal preferences. Bringing your own tools or devices to work has similar advantages, but there are drawbacks as well because enterprises must resolve issues around mixing business and personal information and all of the ensuing privacy, liability, security, support and compliance questions that this poses for business owners, and CIOs, etc. Despite these challenges, BYOD is well-established as the strongest single trend in enterprise mobile adoption, and I estimate 90% of enterprises worldwide have now adopted BYOD in some form in at least part of the organization.

That’s because BYOD is all about freedom, enablement and self-service. The advent of the mobile workforce and the frustration of employees working on outdated equipment while their kids play with state of the art technology at home were two driving forces behind the movement. The era of IT departments mandating specific operating systems or hardware at work has been replaced by a culture where employees have more autonomy, and more responsibility, for managing their own technology. Today, the common way to solve BYOD boundaries between personal and work life is to put secured applications and content on the employee’s device and then turn off the services when the employee leaves the company.

Bringing your own device is just a first step in an evolution leading to a new, bring your own anything culture known as BYOx. SAP is one of the pioneers leading the way. Back in 2012, we led the application development market towards BYOT by enabling companies to run their backend on SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) while using their preferred tools to build their own applications. Sysco Foods, for example, now offers employees a fun experience for a cumbersome business process with a custom built mobile app running on SMP. In the old days, the CIO of a multinational enterprise consisting of numerous acquisitions with sales operations in dozens of countries would have had a 3 to 5 year plan for moving all those unsecured applications onto a common sales platform, quite a messy task. Nowadays, we tell companies to bring their own applications (BYOA) into the SAP Cloud and wrap them using SAP's Mocana-based mobile application wrapping technology to keep their data safe and secure.

These are just two examples of how SAP is helping enterprises extrapolate on BYO trends. Current thinking in the IT industry isn’t agile enough to capitalize on the the scale and elasticity of cloud technology, thus the need for introducing a solution for the BYOx evolution. SAP’s BYOx framework includes devices & wearables (BYOD/W), applications (BYOA), cloud (BYOC), tools (BYOT), and licenses (BYOL), all available on premise or in the cloud. Let’s not forget: the cloud is about unlocking value at massive scale quickly, BUT this also requires the ability to more quickly create or improve the way everyone works. That’s why it’s critical to address all roles including end users, business owners, app developers, IT operators, employees and c-level executives.

But supporting these stakeholders and their need for the promise of agility of BYOx is complex. For example, today, the average device synchronizes to 4 to 8 different clouds, but what about scaling this to 10, 20 or even more?  Pain points to consider include security, compliance, the complexity of app development, working across platforms, and unlocking the potential of backend systems. I believe that a platform approach is a fundamental investment in having a BYOx strategy to achieve this kind of extrapolation to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cloud). So the trick will be to make the right kind of platform investments to support BYOx initiatives that can be led by all the stakeholders in an enterprise, not just IT, but also CMOs, innovation leaders, and everyday users.  And of course, the cost of waiting is high.

In my next blog, I’ll outline the steps for a succesful BYOx journey, and in the final blog in this series, I’ll discuss the connection between BYOx and the multichannel world of the future.