BreakingModern – There’s a phenomena in the business world known as “Bring Your Own Device.” Users — and this is understandable, not unreasonable — want to bring their personal smartphones into the work environment so they can check email or collaborate on documents. But it’s a problem, one which many IT professionals have been coping with for years now, because BYOD can create security vulnerabilities in otherwise locked-down enterprise networks.
On Feb. 25, 2015, Google announced a new initiative called Android for Work that is designed to make it easier for users and company IT managers to integrate personal Android devices into enterprise networks.
According to the announcement, Android for Work will do this using four key components:
- Work Profiles allow users with devices running Android 5.0 or better to create a dedicated work profile that will isolate work data from personal data.
- The Android for Work App allows users to establish the same isolated work profile, but for devices running older versions of the Android operating system.
- Google Play for Work gives IT management control over what apps can be installed on the established work profiles. So, no Netflix on the work profile unless the IT managers give it the okay.
- Built-in productivity tools are available for email, contacts and calendars, which can integrate with enterprise servers and systems like Exchange.
By combining these key components, Google plans to make BYOD easier to manage and, eventually, the hope is that BYOD will become second nature for both users and company IT managers.
Android for Work will only succeed if Google can gain the support and cooperation of corporations in the IT industry. According to the website, Google has lined up an impressive list of partners for the Android for Work program. Major device makers like HTC, Dell and Samsung are on board, as well as enterprise application developers like Salesforce and SAP.
Google is still actively recruiting partners for this initiative, so if you have products are services to offer you’re encouraged to join in the fun.
There is one major hurdle to overcome before Android for Work can be considered a major success. The program is dependent on the widespread adoption of Google Apps like Docs, Sheets and Slides. While younger members of an enterprises workforce will be perfectly comfortable using these apps, many companies have established long-term relationships with other software vendors.
The continued use of this software is often so entrenched in how a company does business, there’s no easy way to drop all of it Google’s apps. That means company IT departments will have to manage a mixed-bag of apps, something they generally frown upon. So, while you may want to use your brand new HTC One M9 at work under the Android for Work program, there are no guarantees your company will allow it.
As soon as smartphones became widely available, the problem of BYOD became a reality for just about every IT professional operating in an enterprise environment. With the Android for Work program, Google is making a valiant attempt to simplify the workplace for employees and managers. A happy integrated mobile workforce is a productive and efficient workforce - and that is really what business is all about.
For BMod, I’m Mark Kaelin.
Featured/First Image Credit: Nexus 6 by TechStage via Flickr Creative Commons
Second/Third Image Credit: Screenshot Courtesy of Android/Google