With the plethora of device types now available, the power to work and study where you choose is now a reality. Want to revise in the park sipping a latte, or update a presentation on the bus, there is now an app and device perfectly suited to your needs.
This trend, commonly known as the Consumerisation of IT in Education or BYOD, is driving the demand for flexible working and studying often using more consumer orientated devices. Within an academic institution, this is not without its challenges, though, and IT professionals within schools, colleges and universities need to consider the impact and management of BYOD from a more holistic perspective to ensure the needs of both the user and enterprise are met.
Lets consider the needs of the students for a second. Gen-Y, who are predominately active users of social media and mobile technology, expect to also use these technologies as a core element of their learning experiences. Is this is often a reality within institutions, though?
Furthermore, with Forrester research reporting that 35% of workers in the US already use a personal device at work, and I am sure the UK numbers are not far off this, the BYOD trend in the enterprise is rapidly gaining momentum. With people becoming more tech savvy, how are institutions also embracing the opportunities of consumerisation of IT in education/BYOD with faculty and admin staff within institutions? Are institutions working to meet the needs of their users?
Via my conversations with network managers and teachers at institutions across the UK, I get a mixed set of responses to these questions. Some institutions are openly embracing BYOD, while others are passionately against these trends.
Ultimately, I don’t see these trends as a threat to an institutions IT strategy, but does require IT managers within institutions to work in a new way and to think differently.
People power, or BYOD, is not without its challenges but requires a balance between freedom, risk and cost to ensure a practical and workable solution for IT users within an institution. IT Managers want to enable anytime, anywhere learning/working for all, I am sure, but also have a responsibility to keep systems and data safe.
To make this a reality, a solution needs to provide anytime, anywhere access to data and apps, consider the most suitable device type to meet the needs of users and, as mentioned previously, mitigate cost and risks.
The consumerisation of IT video below discusses this in more detail.
So, how do IT managers within academic institutions make this a reality?
From a device perspective, multi purpose devices should be front and centre of BYOD strategies. With the pace of change in devices types, it is now possible to get devices that are light weight, have a great battery life and are well suited for both content creation and consumption. These multi-purpose devices can also be managed within a standard IT management environment with increases the security of the device and reduces the overall cost of ownership.
UltraBooks, for example, offer much of the flexibility of slate devices but, in the case of Windows 7 devices, can be managed and secured electronically.
iPads, for example, are fantastic content consumption devices, but offer challenges when it comes to content creation and security/central management. This often leads to the need to have multiple device types to cater for both sets of needs. This adds to the overall cost of the device estate and, particularly in the case of education, adds significant cost to an overall IT budget.
The video below showcasing some of the latest PC's, for example, gives a good feel for how powerful multi-purpose devices are becoming.
With the advances in the cloud, access to data and apps via the browser irrespective of platform is also becoming commonplace. App virtualisation, via VDI and remote desktop, can also help provide flexible and secure access to core apps and act as a fundamental element of an institutions BYOD strategy.
When these 3 elements, device type, the cloud and unified management comes together, institutions have the perfect recipe for BYOD success.
Food for thought, for sure. What do you think about this topic? How are you meeting the needs of your users in the age of BYOD? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.