The growth in Data Protection issues surrounding meeting solutions remains controversial, especially for the security risks involved in BYOD, but that hasn’t stopped some of the biggest vendors from dipping their toes into the market. Microsoft is one of the latest giants to launch a BYOD-centric innovation, as announced at this year’s Enterprise Connect, marking an interesting tweak in direction for the organisation.
“There’s been this love/hate relationship between Microsoft and BYOD because it’s a challenge for them,” Craig Durr, Senior Analyst at Wainhouse Research, told UC Today. “They want to provide this experience, but they can’t have a situation where they feel they don’t give a good IT experience, so they’ve solved this with a partner.”
Crestron is an established vendor in the BYOD space and Microsoft’s new partner. Crestron has collaborated with Microsoft to create the AirMedia Connect Adaptor, a plug-and-play dongle optimized by Microsoft for wireless presentation in collaboration with Teams software. It is flexible enough to work with various other platforms, but it simplifies BYOD meeting solutions by eliminating the need for a specific application for conferences and presentations. All content transmitted via the dongle also uses encryption.
Microsoft Teams expert Tom Arbuthnot from Empowering.Cloud explained Microsoft’s moves into BYOD to UC Today: “Crestron is the first big vendor in the space, using a low-compute Android device, a more aggressive price point, a simple plug-in into the laptop, and then having a Rooms-lite type experience of BYOD. That’s bridging a gap in the Microsoft ecosystem where there’s Microsoft Teams Room, but there’s a whole bunch of Rooms where that price point might not fit. That’s where BYOD Teams solutions might come into play.”
Durr believed the AirMedia dongle helps address Microsoft’s concerns about the quality of IT experience they can provide with BYOD solutions. “By having a device there in the room, it allows Microsoft to create an environment that is networked and managed,” Durr said. “So, they can help IT administrators see what’s going on in these rooms that would typically have things walking away or couldn’t be seen to be working or not.
“Meanwhile, the end user has this experience where they can bring in their own laptop, plug in and use the interface they know, and launch Teams automatically. Then they have the double experience of, on the screen, it looks like a Microsoft Room; it has a schedule app and you can see what’s going on.”
Durr argued that this collaboration signified Microsoft finding a way to “embrace both” sides of the native and BYOD meeting solution “battleground”. “Because customers need both,” Durr expanded, “they need a certain price point that BYOD brings in, and they need a certain experience that native rooms bring in too.”
A further Microsoft announcement, related to BYOD, that intrigued Arbuthnot was the reveal of a shared device license. This was a product potentially of particular interest to firstline workers, representing a practical, affordable BYOD solution relevant to a broad range of organisations.
“An $8 license on an Android device that makes it into a phone and walkie-talkie,” Arbuthnot said, “so it’s an Android device that’s ruggedised and in retail for a really aggressive price point shared between multiple people.”