IT professionals had a lot of consumer technology to keep tabs on this year.
New mobile devices and operating systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft put the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon in the spotlight. We also saw important advancements in the cloud storage and file-sharing market, the other main area of concern when it comes to the consumerization of IT.
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Assessing the benefits and risks of consumer technology in the enterprise has never been easy, and the events of 2012 didn't help that cause. Fortunately, our expert contributors spent the year staying on top of new developments and sharing their consumerization and BYOD tips with readers.
Here are the year's 10 most popular:
10. Windows 8 and SkyDrive blur the line between desktop and cloud
When you log on to a Windows 8 machine, you're also signed in to Microsoft's cloud services -- including SkyDrive, its storage and file-sharing app. This single sign-on integration between Windows 8 and SkyDrive is convenient for end users, but it makes it easier than ever to store and share corporate data in the cloud. That should give desktop administrators pause.
9. Will the cloud replace old-school enterprise email?
Enterprise email is at a crossroads. Users lament how much it consumes their workdays, and IT pros struggle to maintain legacy systems. At the same time, however, email remains a mission-critical application, and it's the first enterprise service that users request access to when they get new devices. As cloud-based email services become more popular with consumers, they're becoming a viable alternative for businesses, too.
8. BYOD cost sharing: Who pays for what?
Allowing personal mobile devices to access corporate systems can make employees more empowered and productive. It can also lessen the burden on IT departments. One area where it can complicate matters, however, is in the finance department. Organizations need to spell out which BYOD costs they'll assume and which will be the responsibility of end users. Otherwise, things will get very messy.
7. How IT can compete with personal email account use
Some workers, fed up with small limits on inbox and attachment sizes, end up forwarding all their work email to Gmail and other personal, cloud-based accounts. The use of personal email accounts raises security and compliance concerns, but to prevent its use, employers must provide viable, user-friendly alternatives.
6. Top 5 Android business apps
Not all consumerization and BYOD tips are about security and cost concerns. It's important to remember that these trends are happening because employees want to improve the way they work. To that end, check out some of the best Android apps for business users, including LogMeIn Ignition and Documents to Go.
5. Android enterprise features may make Ice Cream Sandwich tastier for IT
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich debuted in late 2011 and made it onto several new devices this year. That was good news for IT shops, because the new version of Android has several enterprise features such as full-device encryption and data usage monitoring. But other features, such as facial recognition security software, aren't as helpful as you may think.
4. Making Android remote control and IT administration apps work for you
Most BYOD tips focus on how IT deals with end users' smartphones and tablets, but admins can get in on the fun, too. Android remote administration apps, for example, let IT pros analyze networks, troubleshoot desktops, connect to servers and perform other important tasks right from their mobile devices.
3. Android versus iOS security: Features, policies and controls
The general perception in IT is that Apple's iOS is highly secure, while Android is more vulnerable to malware and other attacks. Those reputations aren't entirely unwarranted, but when it comes to Android and iOS security features, there's more than meets the eye. Both operating systems have made strides to become more enterprise-friendly.
2. Top six iOS 6 features IT should keep an eye on
The iPhone 5 was the most anticipated consumer technology product of the year, and it brought along a new operating system as well. Apple's iOS 6 added some new security and networking features, such as a global HTTP proxy. Other consumer-oriented features, such as 3G FaceTime, could give IT fits.
1. How to create a BYOD policy
All the technology in the world doesn't matter if you don't have a policy in place governing how employees can use their personal devices at work -- and how IT can manage them. Creating a BYOD policy should be a collaborative effort among multiple departments, and policies should cover acceptable use, reimbursement and device selection.