There's a sentiment that often comes up when discussing BYOD, the changing workplace, and the consumerization trend as a whole. It's the idea that consumer-oriented cloud services and mobile apps are delivering a much better user experience than an IT staff, business software, and enterprise developers can provide. That's led companies like Enterproid and Apperian to focus on the end-user experience as well as the IT and management experience of their mobile management products. Both companies see the end user experience as a powerful competitive advantage.
Has Microsoft waited too long to release Office for iOS and Android?
The rumors that Microsoft is planning to release a version of Office for iOS and Android continue to trickle out.
Mac4Ever, a French Apple news and information site, reported yesterday that it had discovered references to Excel for iOS on Microsoft's support site for France. The news bolsters the belief that Microsoft is planning to release at least an iOS version of Office, although there were no matching references on Microsoft's English support site.
This follows a report last month in The Verge, which claimed that it had confirmed that Microsoft will indeed ship Office Mobile as a free app for iOS and Android next year. While the app itself is reported to be free, an Office 365 subscription will reportedly be required to create and edit documents. The Verge also reported that Office Mobile will allow only "basic document editing" and that it isn't likely to be a replacement for the Windows or Mac versions of Office.
A Microsoft employee in the Czech Republic also hinted at an iOS version of Office back in October, although Microsoft later claimed his remarks were not accurate (without actually denying the existence of the product).
All of this makes it seem pretty clear Microsoft is planning to bring Office to mobile platforms beyond its own Windows family.
But Microsoft may have waited so long that "basic document editing" will not be enough to compel users to adopt Office Mobile and any required subscription cost.
A year ago, this probably wouldn't have been a serious problem, and many business users would have been jumping for joy at the idea of have access to actual mobile Office apps from Microsoft. While there have been a number of Office-type suites available for iOS and Android for quite some time, they have historically fallen short of Office on the desktop in terms of their support for things like formatted text, images and graphs, spreadsheet functions, presentation transitions and effects, template support, and integration with Microsoft's Track Changes feature -- once considered the almost mythical holy grail of mobile productivity and collaboration.
The market of Office alternatives has matured significantly in 2012, however.
Last week, Apple released updates to its iWork apps for iOS that focused almost exclusively on adding multi-platform and Office integration features -- including Track Changes in Word/Pages documents. Despite that news, Apple wasn't the first company to implement a high level of Office integration in either iOS or Android apps. Apple also fell short of what other developers have offered in terms of support for Office features on iOS devices.
As I noted last week, ByteSquared and Quickoffice, which was acquired by Google in June, offered this level of integration earlier this year, and both companies have made reviewing, making, and accepting changes easier than Apple. Quickoffice also provides stellar support for comments -- a feature that Apple didn't even tackle in its update.
Even though only Apple and a couple of developers have included Track Changes support, other companies have produced pretty powerful Office alternatives for both iOS and Android. Documents 2, Documents to Go, Smart Office, Zoho Office, and Google Drive all offer varying feature sets for business users that need Office functionality on their devices.
Bring your own device is so 2012. The next big push in the consumerization of IT is bring your own cloud. And just as when consumer devices poured into the enterprise, many IT organizations have already responded with a list of do's and don'ts.
Skyhigh monitors what cloud services employees are using and said that most businesses are surprised at what it finds.
A study by Cisco Systems' Internet Business Solutions Group concludes that the value companies currently derive from BYOD is "dwarfed by the gains that would be possible if they were to implement BYOD more strategically."