Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies continue to escalate in popularity and may have implications for both endpoint management and purchasing strategies, according to a recent Gartner report cited by Channelnomics. For some companies, the popularity of BYOD has also motivated a platform transition from BlackBerry to Android.

The Gartner study, entitled "Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future," asserts that by 2017 nearly half of companies will require their employees to supply their own hardware. Currently, endpoints like tablets and phones constitute a higher margin revenue stream than PCs for channel providers, according to Channelnomics contributor Larry Walsh. However, since many BYOD endpoints like tablets and phones are instead purchased from retailers rather than from channel partners, the proliferation of BYOD could lead to the end of company subsidization of hardware, argued the Gartner report.

Accordingly, employees would shoulder the costs for their devices, while IT departments would be responsible for implementing the right mobile device management (MDM) solutions to secure them. Walsh enumerated the challenges that the latter task entailed, as well as its consequences for channel providers.

"Businesses may stop buying endpoints and complementary software from solution providers, but that doesn't mean solution providers stop selling to businesses," wrote Walsh. "Think about the BYOD challenges businesses face: grossly diverse hardware and software platforms, ubiquitous and unchecked data sharing and storage, disparate security and, of course, any number of rogue applications."

The safe implementation of BYOD policies remains a patchy affair for many companies, however. Gartner reported that only 22 percent of enterprises believed that they had made a good business case for BYOD, which Walsh argued would lead to less serious but riskier BYOD policy implementations.

One company's BYOD switch from BlackBerry to Android
In addition to changing how companies buy hardware and approach security, BYOD has altered the software platforms that some of them use. According to Mobile Enterprise assistant editor Stephanie Blanchard, a Florida-based hospice company recently shifted from BlackBerry to Android in part to accommodate employee demand for BYOD support.

Tidwell Hospice combined its BYOD policy with an MDM strategy, a move which its CIO, David Lafferty, estimated reduced per-employee costs by 84 percent. He also noted that Android was now a safe space in which to deploy a variety of secure applications . "We can now deploy apps that previously could not be deployed due to Android malware," Lafferty told Mobile Enterprise.

Lafferty also explained that the BYOD and MDM strategies allowed for new, secured devices to be added as needed, with a typical life cycle of 24 months.