By Ruben Romero

It’s been about five years, more or less, since the world has been exposed to the conceptual ideal of Bring Your Own Device [BYOD] strategy in presentation and collaboration space design.  Five years since the prognosticators of enterprise technology have announced that the “genie is out of the bottle”, and that workplace strategists should accommodate their users’ desires to present from that new fangled tablet or phone that their spouses bought them for their birthdays.

I once sat in on an event post-mortem meeting where the presenter, a VP of Business Development, laid into the support tech because he was unable to connect his tablet to the network, which affected his presentation.  The tech literally pointed a finger back at this corporate executive and said, “Your device was not cleared by IT and did not have the proper certificates.”

That technician did not last too long at that company.

IT directors everywhere have been tasked over this last half decade to create a strategy that allows for usage of those pesky little devices.  The quick and dirty solution had been to create a short list of devices from which an internal user is free to choose.  The IT team will supply a laptop and sometimes a tablet from this list, and provide credentials to a guest network for the rest of the user’s devices.  As such, the compromise to BYOD is CYOD [Choose Your Own Device].  

CYOD and BYOD have had great impact in terms of user experience with corporate presentation and collaboration tools.  

Users started to leverage private and public content management and document management systems.  Originally built as a repository and sharing resource, now it also allows for seamless access to content across all of a user’s devices.  That these solutions grew in parallel to the BYOD movement was no accident.  By leveraging Box or Drive [or something home baked], devices do not have to be on the same network to share files, they just have to be on a network.

AV teams have been tasked with creating environments that are accommodating of presenters who use any device.  Simple enough when you’re running an HDMI cable from table to rack.  Here’s a cable, here’s a dongle, have at it.

Plugging In Hdmi Cable To Laptop

However, public facing rooms [EBC’s, experience centers] pose a different problem.  How do you keep a room friendly to use, device agnostic, and maintain a clean aesthetic?  Wireless screen sharing appliances came into focus, but often require users to be on the same network — no easy task if you have some users connected via GuestNet and some users connect via CorpNet.

Joe Gaffney is a Systems Designer for TAD Associates, usually tasked with engineering collaborative environments via network.  “In typical cases, some of the meeting participants do not have access to the corporate network but do need to access the shared display. To implement this configuration, providing accessibility to both Guest users as well as Corporate Users, the wireless device is to be installed and reside on the Guest network.  The Guest network has to be structured as an extension of the corporate network, rather than a separate segment.”

Broadly speaking, a relatively quick migration by corporate standards teams, approval of hardware has changed to an adoption of software bridges.  AV designers have had to become, if not fluent, understanding of network infrastructure and customization options.  And while the migration has by no means been universal, nor has the movement become complete, the landscape is finally approaching the original concept of BYOD.

And this concept has not stopped at presentation.  Why only adopt cloud-based content bridges?  Why not cloud-based videoconferencing?  Cloud-based phone system?  Why not a cloud-based development platform? Cloud-based project management tracker?  Five years ago, personal devices in an workplace were enough to motivate IT managers to brandish large hunting knives, but today the value of cloud-based services is reducing CapEx overhead and streamlining systems — making them more predictable and with less points of failure.

CES is starting to dictate technology trends across all sectors, in particular enterprise tech.  Enterprise chiefs and execs can go to CES to learn about cloud migration, data storage, IoT security, automation, AR and VR.  Consumer devices entire value prop is based on intuitive UI, so CES is not only driving tech trends but training users and generating usage analytics that’s informing all of tech, consumer and enterprise.

Higher education has been encouraging students to bring technology to the classroom since I was in college, many many [many] years ago.  Furthermore, many higher ed tracts are built around team project learning and presentation.  EDU collaboration systems have to be interoperable and use case agnostic.  These systems are BYOD in its most pure conceptual format.  

As a younger man, I was responsible for designing, supporting, and implementing these types of systems in a graduate studies campus for a major university.  The students leveraged the technology provided with their own devices and consumer grade technologies that they had been using socially [Google Hangouts, Skype, webcams, mobile, Dropbox, etc].  The focus of our department was to accommodate, not to impede.  BYOD became a layer in the rooms that was parallel to the more traditional AV system.  BYOD, also, became the most utilized layer, both in time and instances.

Colleges and universities are institutions dedicated to provoking thought through training and experience.  Curriculum and coursework are frameworks through which lessons are absorbed.  These tools dictate the preferred user experience when those students become enterprise leaders.  Now, those graduate students that I supported are now in positions as strategic decision makers and influencers.  

The state of BYOD is finally coming full circle to its promise due to workflow behaviors developed by early adopters and the emergence of cloud-based services that were accelerated by the efforts of enterprise AVIT departments to conform to these early adopters.  As is so often the case, the prototypes for these systems have been developed, deployed, and supported in colleges and universities, and best practices are starting to emerge based on use cases that are aggregating into standard tools.

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Ruben Romero is the Managing Director of TAD Associates, Silicon Valley – a Technology, Architecture, and Design consultancy.  He has more than 15 years experience in collaboration technology in support, sales, consulting, and project management.

Find out more about Ruben on LinkedIn and Twitter.