Business telephone service and a physical office was the backbone of business for many years, but digitization and the future of work are ushering in a new reality. BYOD was just the tip of the iceberg.
The mobile revolution, combined with the augmented workforce, are creating a new world of work where everyone exists as their own self-contained virtual office. Workers are even bringing their own business telephone service to the co-working space--right on their mobile devices. As devices become increasingly adapted to the preferences and needs of the user, they become more integral--and useful--for work.
In the 20th century, people went to work to access their technology and everything was locked down in a central location. Your desktop computer was sitting there waiting for you, along with your desk phone, fax, copier, paper filing system, etc. To do extra work, you had to arrive early, stay late or skip lunch.
That era is receding further and further into history.
The Pre-history of BYOD
The first laptops opened up the world, empowering people to get things done in cafes, planes, beaches and mountaintops. The Commodore SX-64 arrived in 1983, weighing in at a punishing 23 pounds and running on just 64K of RAM. That’s about the processing capacity of a thermometer today. Most businesses didn’t use the internet and battery life was functionally nil, but the path to BYOD was open.
As laptops slimmed down in weight and bulked up in processing, doing business on a personal laptop became a point of pride and a mark of distinction. Companies listed “private laptop” as a enticement to new talent. Then the revolution hit.
The aftermath of the mobile revolution
Laptops and smartphones existed before 2009, but that is the year that a robust app ecosystem turned mobile devices into portable offices. Intel was the first to popularize the term BYOD that year and immediately companies across all industries started paying attention to this trend. You could call it Shadow IT- Hardware Edition.
Searches for the term “BYOD” on search engines as took off as workers instinctively used whatever worked best for what they needed in the moment. For example, if someone needed to remember information from a whiteboard, they would just take a picture with their personal smartphone instead of wasting time on writing out the notes.
Cloud-based processing and low-priced apps made phones more useful than their desktop computers.
Bring your own everything (BYOX)
Within two years, 75% of enterprises had a BYOD policy in place. In 2014, Wired reported “BYOD is morphing into BYOx – a new trend that takes the focus away from the specific device employees are using. It’s not just a question of phones and tablets anymore. Content, wearables and apps are all part of the BYOx spectrum.”
4 competitive advantages of BYOD
Entrepreneur magazine concluded that, “BYOD isn’t just popular, it’s inevitable.” BYOD-first companies have gained an edge in 4 areas:
- Employees can do more due to greater schedule flexibility
- Everyone in the company has a stronger sense of ownership
- BYOD as a benefit improves talent attraction/retention
- The company can free up fixed assets and lower operating expenses
BYOD won’t even be a term in the near future. It will just be standard business operations.
The end of the traditional business telephone service
As business phone services continue to struggle to define their relationship to BYOD, the pressure for greater productivity could make them irrelevant.
Unlimited talk/text have become baseline expectations for most plans. Employees don’t need to be compensated for their calls. If workers have a mobile plan where data is tight, the business can choose phone service that handles calls as voice not VoIP, so there will be no impact on the worker’s data plan.
Workers can do uploads/downloads using the business network and managers can decide how to handle work-related data usage outside the office. The transition to BYOPS (bring your own phone service) could accelerate rapidly as early adopters gain greater profitability and enjoy a significant market advantage. As long as companies have an app to act as a professional virtual lobby for business calls, there’s no reason for them to have a business phone service at all.
Flash transformations driven by a mobile culture
That kind of disruption is precisely what happened with the Uber-ization of transportation. When complementary trends converge, the unthinkable can instantly become inevitable.
Before the launch of Uber in 2009, the same year that BYOD took off, no one predicted that private individuals would suddenly turn their own cars into an impromptu national taxi service.
Today, ridesharing companies have “hundreds of thousands of drivers. Millions of users. Billions in VC funding. $51 billion valuations.”
The next stage of this transformation involves the coalescing of trends in smartphones, electric engines and driverless cars. Angus Hervey on FutureCrunch predicted that the collapse of the private combustion car market could happen in a matter of months. He wrote, “Overnight, we’ll see a mass defection to mobility as a service.”
How soon? Within three years. “Recent studies from Bloomberg, the London School of Economics and Stanford University have all pegged the date of the confluence of these three technological waves at around 2020 or 2021.”
Getting out ahead of the wave
Like smartphones and ridesharing, there are a host of other technologies that have seen widespread adoption at this rate. Cloud-hosted apps, AI chatbots for customer service, and voice controlled assistants are suddenly everywhere.
Bring your own phone service (BYOPS) is likely to follow this trend because it is supported by so many other associated developments in this new mobile landscape. The augmented workforce, with their always-on devices and a preference for transactional project work, will come and go with their own devices, their own working habits, and their own phone service.
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