Microsoft, BYOD and the great mobile working debate

Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, beat some of the world’s most respected business leaders in order to land arguably the biggest job in tech.

He inherits a business still renowned for being one of the biggest forces in the industry, but one that faces more competition than at any other point in its history.

The readiness of consumers to adapt and use new, innovative technologies has been unprecedented. Similarly so has their desire to take these devices and use them in the workplace.

It is this blurring of the lines between personal and professional that has completely changed the enterprise computing landscape, creating both challenges and opportunities for Microsoft.

Continued innovations by the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook are something of a headache for Microsoft as these competitors have been quick to adapt their platforms to a new, mobility driven era.

Arguably it has been easier for them to do so; it’s not quite so simple when your operating system is running pretty much every computer connected to the Internet. Satya Nadella, with his background in cloud and enterprise computing, will no doubt have strong ideas about the direction Microsoft needs to head in.

The key challenge he faces is that change takes time. As new CEOs seek to make their stamp, inevitably they suffer from ‘slow down’. People leave, projects get halted; all of which is very frustrating when at the same time you’re seeking to accelerate your efforts to beat Apple and Google at their own game.

However, the drive of Apple devices into the corporate environment represents a challenge. Much has been made of this, with concern expressed that whilst a switch won’t be immediate, Microsoft could well start to lose ground in the enterprise market, traditionally viewed as the jewel in its crown.

But what such assertions forget is that Microsoft has a very big ace up its sleeve in the form of Windows To Go, which enables employees to use a USB stick to operate from any machine and interact with their work applications regardless of their location. It doesn’t matter if that individual is using a Dell, a Sony or a Mac, so long as it has a USB port they can load up Windows and get going.

>See also: Satya Nadella appointed as new Microsoft CEO, Gates quits as chairman

Windows To Go might not be a new product but it is one that has great potential to help Microsoft crack the mobility nut.

There are many technology companies out there launching products to help corporates take advantage of the trend towards mobility that are utilising Windows To Go in order to provide a secure and flexible remote working environment.

The integration of flexibility and security is key to the great mobility debate. Whilst lots of companies are talking about BYOD policies and initiatives, very few large enterprises have a handle on this at the moment.

They know that employees are using their own devices, but what they are struggling with is how they can formalise BYOD without compromising the network. Multiple devices, screens and formats all bring with them new dangers. And as it stands security and flexibility are butting heads when it comes to enabling mobility.

For BYOD to truly take off, this is something that must be addressed. Security has to be a business facilitator, not a blocker.

And that is where Windows to Go comes in. Microsoft has many partners that are using this innovation to offer dynamic solutions to the BYOD conundrum. It feels to me that further exploring how it can better leverage its partnerships might be a more fruitful route in helping Microsoft lead the mobility agenda. The reach of the company, combined with the footprint of its partnership programme, could create a new mobility ecosystem that really puts Microsoft ahead of the game.

In the future, ultimately we will use one handheld device that has everything on it, from work documents through to house moving apps. But for now our reality is that we operate across multiple devices. This brings with it a real opportunity for Microsoft.

The ability to enable employees to access their Windows applications and work from anywhere – Starbucks, the Library or even a friend’s house – all thanks to a small bit of hardware in the form of a USB has the power to truly transform how businesses operate.

Microsoft has the opportunity to create the martini of mobile working – any time, any place, anywhere. And that’s powerful stuff. 


Sourced from Nicholas Banks, VP EMEA and APAC, Imation

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...