BYOD (bring your own device) isn’t the most eloquent acronym to come out of the IT world, however, it’s one that may well be echoing around the corridors of UK manufacturing companies over the next 12 months. During that period, we are likely to witness more and more concepts from enterprise level communications converging on the industrial automation space. Phil Gillard, general manager of SolutionsPT explains why automation providers should be prepared to integrate multiple handheld devices into a single network
BYOD is a simple concept. As industrial networking and automation has developed, the need to monitor plant from a great distance has increased. Simultaneously smartphones and tablets have gone from being the domain of senior executives to being something that we all carry around with us every day. In fact, many of us carry more than one device at any given time and quite a few of us are addicted to interacting with them.
Bring your own device neatly combines these two trends by providing technology platforms, such as Visual KPI from Transpara, that allow the user to integrate their own device, whether it’s Blackberry, Android, Apple or a Windows smartphone, into the system and access data from it anywhere.
In the world of enterprise IT, BYOD can refer to anything from CRM and e-mail to apps and media access. In industry it’s something more specific, it’s about providing access to corporate data rather than applications, in a format that can be easily digested on a mobile platform. It’s not about putting the desktop on your smartphone; it’s about putting data at your fingertips.
Michael Saucier of Transpara, who is a genuine forward thinker in the mobile data community, has this to say on the subject: “Business users can’t understand why they easily have secure access to their personal digital media from anywhere in the world (and on any device they wish) and yet have almost no access to corporate data once they leave the confines of their cubicle and its wired-in desktop.”
He continues: “It reminds me of the early factory-worker days when time clocks and micromanagement ruled the day; where being seen sitting at your desk like Bob Cratchit was more important than getting something accomplished. Those days are long gone but certain Ebenezer Scrooge attitudes still linger in IT.”
The benefits of BYOD are tangible; lower cost of implementation when rolling out mobile related technology, reduced training costs – because the user doesn’t have to ‘learn’ a new smartphone for work and the increased productivity that mobile working provides. There are also soft benefits for the user. Gone are the days of carrying around a ‘work’ phone and a personal device. Gone is the need to wait until you reach the higher echelons of management and are issued with a corporate standard phone, to be able to access information on the move. Gone is the oligarchy of information; data access is now a democratic process open to everyone.
A further benefit of BYOD is that it’s stripping away some of the misconceptions about ICT that we’ve long held as corporate entities. For instance, the ‘corporate standard’ device has always been an illusion. New devices and updates have been shipping every week, ever since the smartphone proved to be the ‘killer app’ that the telecoms industry had been searching for once text messaging had made mobile phones ubiquitous.
SolutionsPT’s interest in BYOD has burgeoned due to our recent UK launch of Visual KPI from Transpara. The product is a piece of advanced business intelligence software that allows real-time monitoring of operations data from any mobile device. It delivers alerts, trends, dashboards and analytics from multiple data sources and can be deployed in hours.
Visual KPI is ideal for operations-driven businesses like energy utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, data centres, e-commerce, retail, and more. It provides real-time critical situation alerts on Blackberry, iPhone, Android, iPad Windows Phone and other devices, allowing users to react quickly to optimise their business, save assets, or take advantage of new opportunities.
Other benefits include access to real-time operations data from multiple sources without creating a new master source, and the ability to rapid prototype KPIs, scorecards, trends and alerts using the Microsoft Excel-based designer. The user can access fast moving data, even information that is subject to multiple changes per second, from multiple locations. This helps to reduce the time from alarm to decision, reduce risks and costs, and improve the decision making process. It also saves wasted trips and phone calls and reduces diagnostic errors.
So, if you hear the phrase BYOD echoing around the halls of your business in the next year or so, don’t be alarmed. It’s only the sound of enterprise IT continuing its unstoppable march into industrial automation. You have a clear choice; you can side with Ebenezer Scrooge and keep your workers chained to their desks for as long as possible. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the benefits BYOD provides to increase profitability, reduce capex and provide process and manufacturing data to everyone who needs it, whenever they need it.
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