BYOD - Been There Done That!
Today we hear a lot in enterprise communications about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). BYOD has created numerous challenges for IT departments, some of which include security, support, and compatibility. There is one group, however, that has years of experience in BYOD and from whom we can learn a lot. That group is Higher Education. Our colleges and universities have to manage a large and fluid population of student users who come to school equipped with their own computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. In most cases schools have already figured out how to handle the basics of BYOD. For instance, universities typically require all students to have anti-virus programs installed on their computers before they can connect to the school network. The program is provided free to the student and updates are maintained by the institution.
But today many universities are moving beyond the basics of BYOD and considering other services they can offer to benefit their student population. One area in which they are providing a value-added service is Unified Communications (UC). Colleges and universities are increasingly integrating SMS and text messaging into their communications plans to quickly notify students of on-campus emergency situations, course and scheduling changes, reminders and in some cases they are even advertising to their student population. Some universities are using SMS messages to save on postage costs.
Additionally, many universities are looking at replacing decades old and in many cases obsolete PBX systems with applications-driven VoIP communications systems like GENBAND’s A2 Communications Application Server. Systems like the A2 come with a number of productivity tools such as Presence, SMS and text messaging, file sharing, web collaboration and video calling - all ideally suited for today’s tech-savvy college student. For instance, students with the A2’s advanced multimedia communications capabilities installed on their laptop, smartphone, or tablet could call an impromptu study group by checking the group members’ presence and sending an instant message to everyone. The group could use the A2’s conferencing or video calling capability to create a group call. During the call they could transfer files or share links. The group could collaborate online by setting up an ad hoc web collaboration session via the A2. This is just one example of how universities can and are leveraging both UC technology and the proliferation of user-owned computing devices to enhance the learning experience of their students.
To the higher education community, BYOD is nothing new. They have been dealing with a tremendous variety of user-owned devices for years. They have mastered the basics of supporting these devices and are now looking to how they can use the growing BYOD trend to provide advanced services to their most important user community, the students. The A2 Communications Application Server is the ideal platform from which to launch these services. It is highly scalable, extremely flexible and supports a broad spectrum of clients from PCs to Macs to IOS or Android-powered phones and tablets.
Additionally, the A2 is an open system with a thriving Developer Community focused on expanding the number of third party applications used by large enterprises. Who knows? Maybe the next great communications app will come from a college student for whom sophisticated, A2-based unified communications has become second nature.