Employees are Shelling Out Big Bucks to Ditch IT

Employees are Shelling Out Big Bucks to Ditch IT

Summary: 42% of employees admit to using their own computer or smartphone to do their jobs, and 27% say they have better tech at home than at work. Why not unleash employees' productive potential by giving them freedom, and implementing a bring-your-own-computer policy?


The term "Individual contributor" covers a lot of ground -- from brain surgeon to the shipping and receiving clerk at your local Wal-Mart. I'm not sure which of these two is a better fit for a virtual desktop, or which one has a Mac at home, but I do know that the individual contributors who spent their own money on technology last year to do their jobs, shelled out $1252.60 on hardware alone, and another $556.90 on software. That's a heap o' cash.

When we asked them why they spent the money, 42% said it was something they use in their personal lives that they wanted to use for work. Another 27% said their own equipment is better than what their companies provide (presumably CT scanners, portable defibrillators and Sony PSPs can be ruled out). How do their companies feel about them using their own devices and software? 48% said their firms would either not approve, or make them stop using it.

Of course we know the usual reasons why: Security and and company policy, and the "benefits" of centralized IT and shared services, among others. I don't know about you, but I always found "shared services" to be a bit of a sham. You know how it works: the VP with the biggest, high-profile project gets all of the services, and the rest of the plebes get to "share" the table scraps. Want a copy of Microsoft Project or a new laptop for that customer service rep who starts next week? Sorry…Steve's program is using all of the Project licenses, and all we have left in the closet is Pentium II desktops…but they have ergonomic keyboards!

And this is how it starts. Employees with a responsibility from the CEO or their own boss to meet business goals by executing well, don't make their careers by putting policy first. They make it by putting execution first. If they have everything they want from the company, they will live within the policies. When they want something else and can't get it, policy goes out the window and they devise ingenious ways to keep from getting caught. Is this bad? Not inherently, no. It would be if the employee engaged in illegal or unethical activity, but most of the time, it's honest people just trying to get their work done without being hassled.

Why not use this free energy? Why not have a formal policy and technology framework that allows your firm to embrace this show of initiative and passion? Why not unleash employees' productive potential by giving them freedom, and implementing a bring-your-own-computer policy? Why cripple your best people with bureaucratic processes and draconian controls? You can do it, and Michele Pelino and I will show you how. It's the biggest IT green field opportunity of them all!

This is a highly charged and polarizing topic, filled with strong opinions and bravado in equal measures. Bring them with you, and join us for a deep dive on BYOC best-practices on May 24-25 in Las Vegas, at Forrester's Infrastructure & Operations Forum 2012.

Topics: CXO, Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft, Processors, Software

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  • Two problems...

    ...and two words: Sarbanes-Oxley

    In olden days, companies had central switchboards. All was fine until companies decided they would listen in to spy on their employees. When the cell phone was invented, popularity exploded, since a person could now make a private call from work.

    Fast forward. Companies were forced by Sarbanes-Oxley to buy fancy new e-mail recording devices. This would have been fine, but in short order companies realized that they could track internet usage and spy on their employees. Notebooks weren't small enough, they could be found by evil IT departments (see the IT failure article in todays' ZDNet). A tablet, however, could be hidden in a purse, and wasn't considered a threat. When the ability to run Farmville appeared on the iPad, sales zoomed to the sky!

    That's all the iPad is, just as cell phones before it, a response to heavy-handed company security.
    Tony Burzio
  • not so fast ...

    What no one talks about is the primary reason employees want to use their own technology is it likely is not managed, has no security applied, and doesn't have "big brother" supervising the websites they visit, IM & email conversations.

    We welcome employees to provide their own technology but with that comes employee responsibility. They have to keep their devices up to date, Ensure their virus and malware protection is applied (and current). We provide limited support to corporate Applications. Corporate data should not be stored natively and in most cases is only accessible via web / virtual applications (Citrix, VDI etc).

    So it's really a trade off. Personally I'll take whatever the company provides they feel is needed to do my job. I value my privacy and do not wish unneeded wear and tear on my tech gear. BYOD really only makes sense if your company stipends the expense, without that it's silly to think I'm going to use my gear and adhere to company policies. It's like the shift in health care costs. The perk is all in the corporation favor as they have less hardware expense, less wireless service expense but the cost is shifted to provide more backend / cloud systems to allow this new model.

    Considering many corporations have a lot of legal speak in their BYOD policy regarding liablity and confiscated devices if needed for legal discovery it's not that great a deal for any employee to jump on this "trend"
    • They will stipend, but then say "Austerity!!" and cut that off as well

      I also made a precedent for this form of "bait and switch" below, involving the transition from pensions to 401k plans over the years... if you like tangents, but it does start out with a directly relevant bit about worker salary going down and the reasons as to why... it's not always about directly-stated wages...
  • Keep putting these thoughts...

    ...into dumb business managers' heads.
    They'll be glad to eliminate IT as a cost. And they'll never stop to consider:
    - it's a personal computer: who owns data on it?
    - who and how is going to backup docs, notes, emails, etc.?
    - how are you going to perform e-discovery if someone someone sues you?
    - how are you going to enforce security, access rules, etc.?
    - who and how is paying if personal device infect entire network?

    Should i continue?
    • I can't believe the blogger actually thinks this is a good idea.

      guess he never worked in a corporate IT dept.
      William Farrel
    • BYOD is a BAD idea.......

      Work for a medical facility, education, insurance or any other similar organization that needs to deal with HIPAA information and you will be in for a very rude surprise if any of that information is on a personal device.

      The penalties for getting caught with that information, whether it is intentional or not, are steep, and may include criminal penalties.

      I know I am not going to take that chance, are you?
      linux for me
  • Love those yardsales....

    Used corporate PC's anyone? How about used personal PC's with tons of hidden corporate data on them? How about malware infected personal computers then? What a bargain.... $10 for a used hard drive....$50 for an old laptop.

    The average user has no idea --- NO IDEA AT ALL --- how many laws they can break, how many lives they can destroy with absolutely hairbrained, half-witted ideas like "bring-your-own-laptop-to-work". Companies that allow such wanton disregard for even the most basic security deserve every bad thing that will happen to them. EVERY BAD THING.
    • Right on, rock06r!

      Right on!

      These are the most basic topics that is beside the simple virus/malware that a lot of the "media writer" are somehow either not understanding or dont even know exists and they're going about all these oh yeah, BYOD, it'll be cheaper for the company, blah blah blah.

      These ppl need to tell the reasons WHY it's a very bad idea from both side of the equation.

      Risk is not worth the few dollar savings at all.
      • Except our economy is supply-side economics based

        There are no other sides to the equation, in the eyes of some.
  • Dam it Jim I am an Employee not a Contractor

    "Why not use this free energy? Why not have a formal policy and technology framework that allows your firm to embrace this show of initiative and passion? Why not unleash employees??? productive potential by giving them freedom, and implementing a bring-your-own-computer policy? Why cripple your best people with bureaucratic processes and draconian controls? You can do it, and Michele Pelino and I will show you how. It???s the biggest IT green field opportunity of them all!"

    Why Not t first I am an Employee, This not free for me since I had to by the technology from my own pocket. Worst I probably cannot take the deduction for work use unless perhaps the home office. Second liability. How do a company enforce IT policies on my equipment. Not to mention I keep my own side business data on my machine and I am a furry and anime fan. Do I really need to disclose my while family friendly but eccentric hobbies with my boss? Do I give up my privacy rights because I use personal tech for work?
    There a lot a questions why I say no thanks.
    • It is not free - all of this is just delegation of cost

      back to the worker.

      As a result, one's wage is dropped down by the cost of the BYOD unit plus monthly fee.

      People being cajoled to BYOD is not unlike the corporate transition from pensions to 401ks a few decades ago - pass along the costs, make it sound nice in the process, and pocket the difference as profit. No fuss, no muss.
  • Draconian controls?

    [i]Why cripple your best people with bureaucratic processes and draconian controls?[/i]

    Seriously? Is it the bloggers opinion a company puts controls in place solely to cripple their employees?
    • They are only Draconian controls when

      someone who believes they know better wishes to use their device as opposed to that of corporate's choosing, for reasons that are of importance to the users regardless of the risk to the employer.
      John Zern
      • Or they want to use "their" corporate PC for non-work use

        It makes me laugh but also just a little angry when I hear people complain about how their employer restricts access to certain websites or restricts user privileges on "their" work PC. Apparently, they're forgetting that the work PC is like the automatic stapler they were given on the first day of the job: the company paid for the equipment, ergo the equipment belongs to the company, not them. Same with the Internet connection running to their office/cubicle: the company pays the monthly bills to maintain that connection, not them.

        If they want to play Farmville on their own PC/laptop/tablet/smartphone at work while using their own personal dataplans and/or a Wi-Fi connection from a close-by restaurant or coffee house, that's their choice. But the minute they want to start using company assets (including the Internet connection) for non-work activities, that's when the company has the right -- if not the [b]duty[/b] -- to set restrictions and limitations on their use. It's no different than using the company copier to print off invitations to your kid's wedding/baby shower, but for some reason becuase it's IT or Internet-related people think it's different.
  • Great stuff, this BYOD

    We're allowed to use personal smart phones for company business, and that is it, period. However, in return for allowing company email to go on to mobile device (phone, tablet, imax); we the sheep must agree to allow the company to remote-obliterate our phones should they ever choose to do so (separation from the company automatically triggers this happening). So I have a complete factory reset to look forward to at some point and time. I really need to be more diligent regarding backups, especially any pictures I don't want to lose.

    If we choose not to allow this, the company will buy us a device they will then own. Since this means carrying two devices at all times, a large percentage of the workforce chooses to just use their own despite the inevitable consequences.
    • At the last contract, emails forbidden to be bounced to private addresses

  • Australian DSD approval for iOS makes it almost impossible for private use

    The Defense Signals Directorate recently approved iOS for secure use in Australia government departments. The thing is that the devices need to be so locked down that they are almost useless for anything but strickly the functions defined. The reality is that to be secure, BYOD is a fallacy, because practically anything a person does privately is insecure due to the risk exposure vectors it opens.

    I would expect that Android (if not all OSs) would be in the same boat.
  • Disasters waiting to happen

    I've been in situations where my senior management, despite my warnings, thought this kind of activity was a good thing and a money saver. Example: A project was going to require a lot of contractors and instead of providing them with the computers, they were told they could bring their own equipment in. So, one guy brought in his laptop that we later found had no anti-virus on it and managed to cripple our entire network for over a week with a virus he brought in. Another employee thought it would be great to bring in his own Linksys router so he could have wireless. He brought down an entire subnet by leaving DHCP on, and ran it completely unsecured (no encryption, didn't change the admin password, etc). Another guy reconfigured his production machine with an early Windows beta which had a bug in the IP stack and kept causing one of the switches to crash.

    So, with just these few examples, how much money was saved due to people bringing in their own equipment and causing these support instances and loss of business/productivity?
  • BYOD does not mean Abandon your senses

    It means letting employees use their own kit without it impacting the company or losing the data. Good MDM solutions are offering secure, wipeable areas on the device where corporate data can be stored. Lose the device or leave the company, corporate wipe removes only the company data.
    The nexus installfree allows cloud data to be executes on private (or public) cloud applications - streamed to any device - I can then use any device to work at home or on the road.
    BTW - Security isnt about plugging all the holes - its about making sure the holes dont affect the company... or is that jobs for the boys being threatened....
    All his comes down to one thing - productivity. If companies want staff to only work from an office LAN, lugging about a big & heavy laptop, they will get less productivity. If companies enable BYOD or even provide the device, employees can, and want to work that little bit more - and thats how you become a leading company, not a runner-up