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Friday, September 26, 2008

Citrix "BYOC" Policy Will Drive UC Too

September 26, 2008

Power to The End Users - Citrix “BYOC” Will Help Enterprise UC

Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View

There have been many past rumbles in the IT press that enterprise organizations were increasingly subsidizing the laptops that their employees selected on their own for business use. The last guesstimate reported was roughly 10% of the workforce, typically those who needed mobility and information portability. There was little correlation of this trend with communications, particularly with new UC capabilities.

The business user adoption of PDAs and cell phones, and now multi-modal “smart phones,” focused the UC spotlight on the importance of personalized endpoint communication devices that will be used for both business and consumer contacts and information. Now, that concept is “coming out of the closet” with Citrix’s public announcement that it is compensating it’s employees to procure their own laptops of choice, dubbed as “Bring Your Own Computer” (BYOC).

The BYOC plan requires that employees use Citrix’s “virtualized” software that keeps all business applications and data on the company servers, while personal software can be installed and used on the laptops. This arrangement extends the role of the portable desktop PC in the same direction as that of mobile handheld devices, which will reinforce the UC focus on selective end user control of their accessibility and availability for both business and personal activities on a single device.

What Does That Mean For Enterprise UC?

We have long suggested that UC flexibility is not just about business end users, but will be used by mobile consumers, especially when doing business on the Web. I labeled that kind of activity “Consumer UC,” where consumers need to contact other consumers or service providers and vice versa. Where the user is a “customer,” there is a sensitive relationship that will require special enterprise capabilities traditionally found in telephone call centers, but should now be labeled as “Customer UC” to differentiate it from internal enterprise contacts.

As the telephony industry transitions from wired, location-based voice to becoming part of the multi-modal, mobile UC world of communications, information access has to be integrated as part of person-to-person and process to-person business contacts. With IP telephony and “rich presence” supporting UC, legacy voice conversation silos can give way to more “collaborative” interactions between people who are not necessarily face-to-face. This capability drives another productivity nail into the coffin of “human contact latency” that has always hampered both individual and organizational business process performance.

Separation of Church (Business) and State (End Users)

While handheld mobile device choices by individual end users have been reluctantly accepted by some business organizations, portable desktop devices that stored proprietary information and applications, were still controlled and supported by internal IT departments. That usually meant that those laptops would not be freely used for personal applications and public web services.

With enterprise software and information safely ensconced in secure, enterprise- controlled “virtual” storage, such as offered by Citrix to its customers, laptops can now be selected by individual end users to meet their personal interests and still be used for business work. That resonates well with the UC pitch for meshing personal communications via public consumer communication services with business contacts (through the “office”) using a single multimodal device.

Virtualization of desktop business applications and information completes the picture for end user control of their UC accessibility and availability through the device of their choice at any time (handheld or laptop). This virtualization approach enables the enterprise to maintain access and usage control to protect business information and business process applications.

We therefore applaud Citrix for publicly practicing what we have been preaching that will drive greater use of enterprise UC - device independence from business applications. Now we just need more network-independence for those devices!

What Do You Think?

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