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Business in Vancouver

Canadian Freelance Union- CEP

Local app helps companies manage workplace BYOD trend

by  Alan Zisman (c) 2012 First published in Business in Vancouver September 4, 2012 Issue #1193 High Tech Office column

With this single app installed on employees’ personal devices, companies can securely push a suite of work-related apps, documents and more onto smartphones and tablets

The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon is causing consternation across the business world.

But Mike Sommer, CEO of year-old Vancouver software developer Digital Backpack, thinks his firm’s new product – Digital Backpack – offers a solution to what he calls “the chaos that has resulted from BYOD.”

With this single app installed on employees’ personal devices, companies can securely push a suite of work-related apps, documents, training materials, audio and video files and more onto smartphones and tablets.

When employees tap on the Digital Backpack icon, they see the set of apps sent to their device by the company. In addition, a second tab displays documents or media files sent from the employer.

The company uses dashboard controller software that lets designated users manage the apps, documents and other files; different content can be sent to different groups of employees. For example, sales staff might need different apps and media files than IT support staff.

This enables the employer to make sure staff – despite using a wide variety of devices – have the apps and content needed for their jobs while separating work-related and personal apps and content. New versions of apps or critical documents can be quickly distributed as they become available.

According to Sommer, Digital Backpack can “reconnect mobile users with the company, restoring the ability of the company to manage assets without invading users’ privacy.”

In effect, companies deploying Digital Backpack get their own private app stores. In addition, the dashboard provides feedback on what’s being used and how well it’s working.

Surrey’s Real Smart Training Centre (realsmart.ca) has been helping students pass BC real estate and mortgage broker exams for12 years, both with five-week classroom-based courses and more recently with online classes. Their students increasingly want access to their training materials online from their smartphones. To help with this, they’ve been using Digital Backpack to distribute tutorial videos to students together with selected Android apps.

Real Smart president Sandy Brown considers Digital Backpack “well thought out. It does a lot but is simple to use.” She liked that, despite its power, it “didn’t take a lot of training.”

Digital Backpack for Android 2.3 or later is newly released; a version for Apple iOS devices is expected in 2013. Pricing is per user/per month. Trial versions are at digital-backpack.com.