If iPads are topping your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative requirements, then you should seek out the most iPad-friendly access solution possible. I recently had a chance to try bigtincan hub, a content management and collaboration platform that's ideal for iPad users. It's available as a server- or cloud-based solution and has the potential to be a central access point between BYOD iPads and your corporate resources.
Getting started with bigtincan hub
While bigtincan hub has the potential to be a real out-of-the-box collaboration solution, with advantages like standardizing access tools for users, it does require internal setup and provisioning on BYOD iPads. First, you have to download the bigtincan hub app from the App Store or through an enterprise app store.The initial install I followed may not be self-service enough for novice users and the iPad they got last Christmas. If you have a lot of novice iPad users to get online with bigtincan hub, I recommend sending BYOD users to the App Store to download the bigtincan hub app to their personal iPad -- or you can install the bigtincan hub app as part of the device onboarding process. Figure A shows an example of accessing report documents in bigtincan hub: Figure A
Report documents in bigtincan hub.
Inside bigtincan hub
In my opinion, bigtincan hub really understands the principle of content delivery, especially when you consider the following typical scenarios of BYOD users accessing corporate content via bigtincan hub:
- Corporate documents residing on corporate servers and SharePoint sites behind the firewall
- bigtincan hub sitting between the corporate content and the BYOD user (either on a private server or in the cloud)
- BYOD user who needs access to corporate content
Going with bigtincan hub means you can provision user access and document security from a single solution.
One of the challenges that I see bigtincan hub facing is SharePoint and other cloud storage solutions that may already be in place in some corporate enterprises. Even though bigtincan hub integrates with SharePoint, it still needs a justification, and this could be problematic for enterprises who don't have the security expertise and infrastructure in-house to support an influx of BYOD iPad users.
Content management with bigtincan hubContent management for mobile users, in general, presents a unique set of challenges that mainstream content management providers are still trying to get right. With bigtincan hub, there's role-based content delivery available that sets user permissions. It supports online and offline usage, plus bigtincan hub uses the channel model for managing content. Figure B shows an example of channels in bigtincan hub: Figure B
Channels in bigtincan hub.
While bigtincan hub lets you annotate and share PDFs and edit Microsoft Office documents, if your users have mobile office suites on their iPads, it could be seen as redundant. However, as part of an overall strategy, using bigtincan hub for document editing from BYOD devices could be another selling point when it comes to user support.
The ContentIQ feature is a definite differentiator for bigtincan hub, because it prioritizes corporate content based on the relevancy of their searches. Depending on the volume of your content, this is definitely a feature to explore and thoroughly test, especially if your mobile workforce wants go sans laptop and use only an iPad.
There's also a secure Content container that encrypts data on the iPad, in transit and at rest. This is a nice piece of consolidation, and despite my concerns about bigtincan hub redundancies, BYOD security requirements could make this solution a winner.
Get social with bigtincan hubThe bigtincan hub app also includes social tools that you should expect to see in today's mobile collaboration solutions. Figure C shows an example of bigtincan hub's social tools: Figure C
Social tools on bigtincan hub.
BYOD with bigtincan hub
If you're seeking a BYOD solution, bigtincan hub is a solid choice, because its features encompass so many of the potential requirements for a BYOD initiative. It might not be beneficial for organizations standardized on SharePoint or that already have a solution in place, like Harmon.ie or one of the other client apps I profiled in "Top iPad apps for accessing SharePoint." However, there are times when a BYOD-in-a-box approach makes sense when you can outsource many of the security, access, and content management features that users require, which is the sweet spot for bigtincan hub.
Also readTechRepublic and ZDNet delve deeper into this topic in a special report page: BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.