BYOD: From optional to mandatory by 2017, says Gartner

BYOD: From optional to mandatory by 2017, says Gartner

Summary: Latest research suggests half of employers will, in just four years' time, require employees to bring their own devices to work. Should BYOD be a requirement over a personal, optional decision?


Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has for some time been gaining traction in the workplace, as not only a way of freeing up IT costs but also liberalizing workers from being virtually chained, clunky, aging machines at their desks.

But latest research from Gartner suggests that by 2017, half of employers may impose a mandatory BYOD policy — requiring staffs to bring their own laptop, tablet and smartphone to work.

(Credit: Oliver Wales/Flickr)

As an optional policy, workplaces still have an IT fallback option, but many are choosing to bring their own tablets and smartphones to work in order to work more effectively using the technology they feel more comfortable with.

Some interesting tidbits from the research:

  • 38 percent of companies expect to stop providing workplace devices to staff by 2016. (PCs, such as desktops and laptops, are included in the definition of BYOD.)

  • BYOD is most prevalent in midsize and larger enterprises, often generating between $500m-$5bn in revenue per year, with 2,500-5,000 employees on the roster.

  • BRIC nations, such as India, China, and Brazil, will most likely already be using a personal device — typically a "standard mobile phone" — at work.

  • Meanwhile, companies in the U.S. are more likely to allow BYOD than those in Europe (likely due to stronger data protection rules, see below).

  • Around half of all BYOD programs provide a partial reimbursement, while full reimbursement costs "will become rare."

  • Gartner vice president David Willis says companies should "subsidize only the service plan on a smartphone."

But there's a problem within. Those who have yet to adopt a BYOD policy often generally cite one of two good reasons (or both): interoperability and security. 

On two fronts, IT staff need to account for additional budget spending on ensuring that BYOD devices are secure to work on the corporate network. Nobody wants to leave an iPad on the train home from work only to find there's not even a password protecting the dozens of critical business documents from prying eyes. The U.K.'s own privacy and data watchdog recently warned of "laissez faire attitudes" towards data security.

Secondly, interoperability. Not all devices speak to each other. Outsourced cloud services often work well because they generally cut down on IT costs, but because they are cloud-based they are available to work on any device, regardless of platform. 

Gartner notes that IT is becoming more aware of what has typically been going on since "BYOD" was first coined. Staff bring their own devices to work, typically a smartphone, and use it for both work and personal reasons.

But BYOD isn't a trend sitting on its own. With it comes further responsibility in ensuring these two key elements work together to ensure that BYOD employees are able to work effectively and securely without putting customer or business data at risk.

The bottom line: While BYOD is currently optional in many workplaces, there's a whole behind-the-scenes can of worms that goes along with it. You often can't have one without the other. Driving down spending per staff head may be offset by infrastructure changes that are necessary to support such workers.

Topics: Bring Your Own Device, Enterprise Software

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  • Doubt it very much

    When the early-adopters are sated, all those other employees that don't have a tablet or laptop at home, what will they do? Be given money to buy equipment? Well then that's going to cost more than a standardised corporate buying policy and the BYOD'ers will want compensating.
    Sooner or later, people are going to push back against this, when people realise it's just a way for firms to offload cost onto employees. I bet if you told most *average* workers that they will need to pay for the PC on their desk in a few years, I don't think the response will be positive.
    Yes BYOD works for those with latest technology, tablets and i* whatever laptops. It's the rest of the population that it simply does not work for.
    Little Old Man
    • Agree

    • especially when companies demand different platforms

      it will cost already-strapped workers more but wall street profit will benefit... who matters most?
  • Gartner is, as usual, full of it.

    Any company that cannot afford to provision its workforce with the tools necessary to do their job is either heading for bankruptcy or too small to provide any security or benefits as well. If I were to interview with a company and they told me I had to BYOD, that would be the end of the interview. I keep my work and personal life strictly separated, and there is no way I will allow a company to have any degree of control over my personal device, period. And then there's the matter of exactly who is paying for it. If it is expected to be me, then no deal. The whole concept is stupid, and any company with any degree of concern about security and vulnerability, to say nothing of the possibility of misuse, loss and theft, would be insane to permit this.
    • Well said

      As annoying as it is to strap a case on my belt to carry THEIR BB, I much prefer that over having bloatware pushed out by my company that bricks MY smartphone; apps and data that use up my hard drive.
      beau parisi
    • I just don't see it.

      BYOD as mandatory seems like a huge leap. Way too many issues with security, interoperability and compatability to overcome, not to mention the uprising that will occur when people are asked to go buy their own equipment.

      It's one thing to allow your employees to use their personal Android or iPhone smartphones for business. It's a whole other thing to let them use their personal desktop/laptop for this.
  • I took on the law...

    and the law won.

    Until the law, especially on data protection, is changed to follow this trend, it is going to mean a lot of hot water for European companies as they try and keep the data on those "personal" devices under control.

    It is going to be difficult to explain to an employee wanting to use their own iPad, that they have to have a password (not just a PIN) attached to it, to unlock it. Additionally, they won't like it when they are told that their spouse and kids can't use the tablet any more, because it has company data on it.

    You can make an employee sign off on that sort of thing, if you provide them with the hardware, but it is a different matter when they pay for it themselves.

    Also, what is when they leave the company? How are you going to ensure they aren't taking your corporate data with them? That is hard enough when they use company property, but try telling them that you are going to remote erase their device and that you want to inspect their home PC, to ensure that there aren't any backups of the device on it... And what is with their cloud storage?

    Then you have this issues of software licences. Who is responsible for ensuring everything is properly licensed? Even if they bought an Office licence, for example, what if the bought Home & Student? They can't, theoretically, use that at the office, and who is liable for that?
    • Office Documents

      Software as a service eliminates the licensing issue as does apparently apps like Evernote. Says is a bit spend as of yet. But rest assured BYOD will reduce this price by law eventually. There are laws in place on how much markup in price is acceptable to the general public. By 2016? Not a chance. But this and Telecommuting will be a reality globaly in the future. The U.S. is actually behind the rest of the world on this issue.
      • Old Trends

        The issue on Corporate side. Nothing can stop an employee from purchasing a computer 15 years old and taking 4 weeks to do a job that would now be expected to be complete in a few days. You can force a dress pants and collar shirt dress code. But you can't enforce that attire to be Versace'.
  • Barriers remain

    Mandatory BYOD will only be accepted if a stipend is provided. If say a company provided a technology allowance on an interval to offset the cost of a laptop, smartphone, tablet, desktop etc I'd see it getting traction. If the costs are shifted onto employees I doubt you'll see anything beyond the C level executives who prefer device X over Y. Cost and Privacy are two major issues BYOD has not figured out how to solve.

    Beyond hardware preference how will software licensing be handled? Since the company won't provide say Office will a hodge podge of versions be used? Will this trigger compatibility issues? How will you handle piracy as many programs are expensive?

    Reality is we're moving to a quasi dumb terminal / cloud world where the software you use is still governed by your company and you just remote / log in. This will ensure data governance and record keeping. I'm not sure it's going to be more cost effective or a better user experience.
  • I see a lot of people buying a second device.

    I see a lot of people buying a second device.
    • Second Devices

      I agree, I have been talking to a few techs around this and most will tell you that they wouldn't let 'the company' re-image their phone or tablet so that they could access work systems, if it was going to remove paid for apps or intrude on what they can use it for.

      Obviously theres going to be a dependancy on existing Company Security Policies regarding non-company devices connecting to company networks. Then the only option is the company supply devices to employees so where is the saving?
  • Why mandatory is a bad idea.

    Mandatory is a bad idea, and here's why: It turns a win-win situation into a win-lose situation.

    With optional BYOD, the employee gets to decide whether it's a win for them or not. If it's a win, they can decide to use the BYOD policy. If it's not, the employee can choose to go the other route. It's win-win because the employee has a choice and doesn't have to lose if they determine that BYOD is a lose situation.

    With a mandatory BYOD policy, the employee doesn't get the opportunity to choose if it's a win or not. Thus, we get the very real possibility that this is a win-lose situation, and not a win-win.

    Many employees may feel compelled to buy a new device out of their own pocketbooks, because they don't like the idea of a personal device being subject to the business' network policies. And as MobileAdmin indicates, if they have to buy their own device, they'll start asking for a stipend.

    I don't think that mandatory BYOD is a win-win future.
  • BYOD is a flawed pipedream

    The problem is not that employers are NOT providing the tools for employees to do their jobs, it is that many people want their own device instead of the company issued one. Working in IT Management for education we provide computers in every classroom and if offices and tablets for use of staff and students. We do not provide phones but for the most part the tools are there.

    What USERS need to realize is that their personal BYOD device should not be expected to have full support of the company and the company's IT staff. I cannot go a day without someone bringing me their phone demanding I set up email on it because they cannot follow the simple instructions posted online. This is a pain for the users that seem to lose or break their phone every few months. Then we get the ones that complain when they cannot access all the company's software and network resources on their personal device or when it is not working properly want free support because "They use it for work"

    I have teachers that have a perfectly good computer or laptop in their classroom or office but bring their own in and when it doesn't work put a help desk request in or bring it to me and say fix it. They claim they do not like to log in and that having a password is a pain. So BYOD is flawed in many ways especially when most businesses and schools provide the tools for an employee to do their job.
  • Rubbish

    This whole BOYD thing is rubbish and will never work, being an IT Technician myself it is hard enough to keep employees from messing around on their devices,installing games and getting all sorts of funny viruses on the machines, the thing is that while the PC belongs to the company i hold the law and can choose to remove unwanted programs or things i find to not be work related or could be putting company data at risk, That is like buying a car and being told how to drive it.....utter garbage...Gartner are IDIOTS....and anyone who insists on BOYD has never had to manage a staff of 200 plus people all with different devices....
    • I agree for the most part

      I know people think we are being mean and controlling when IT people have this attitude but the sad part of it is that BYOD as whole is impractical. Sure we can accommodate our users having company email and some apps on their phones and maybe even some tablets here and there but making it mandatory is a joke. As I mentioned above I work in education and the staff already walks over the IT staff and they are terrible with the BYOD we allow now. I find phones and tablets on my desk with notes saying "Set up my email..THanks" and people bring me their devices saying it does not work or it crashed and expect us to fix it for free because they use it for work.

      In my experience the organization supplies all or at least most of what is needed for a person to do their job and much of BYOD is driven by selfish users that want to use their own device because they feel restricted or controlled on the company device. Some think it would be cheaper but to counteract all the potential security risks you would need protection on the back end costing tens of thousands of dollars to check each device that connects to the company's network for known security risks. So the company may not get you the latest shiny MacBook or fancy tablet but what they do give is all you need to do your job.
  • "research"

    I have a feeling that "research" means polling, and given that it's not prevalent now, it necessarily included companies who don't do it yet, and don't understand the difficulties involved, or have such trivial technology needs themselves (and have no information to protect) that it won't matter if they do.
  • Impact on Win-Office monopoly ?

    I wonder how well Office 365 is selling.
    BYOD may turn in big revenue loss for Microsoft (and Intel ?).
    Palmer Colamarino
    • Seems pretty good to me
  • Easier for the employee

    I’m going to go against the grain here, and set my stall in favour of BYOD. From an employee point of view, I would say it has significant advantages. Using your own device for work avoids the need to carry multiple mobiles while on the move, which for sales people in particular – who are often out visiting clients and prospects – is an unnecessary inconvenience. In many cases, people’s own devices will be more advanced than what their company might provide, and it is not as if it is impossible to separate work and personal lives – improvements to functionality make it easy to switch off when you want to. While there may be issues around making it mandatory, BYOD itself makes good business sense.

    Matt Ranger, Head of Sales – EMEA, Maximizer Software
    Maximizer CRM