BYOD: One in three companies still don't get it

Staff want to use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones — and will find a way of doing it whether the IT department knows or not, according to new research. Meanwhile, businesses rather than consumers are showing most interest in wearable tech.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director
IT is failing to come to terms with the now well-established BYOD trend. Image: Shutterstock

IT departments are still failing to get to grips with the concept of bring your own device (BYOD) — forcing staff to go it alone, according to research from tech analyst Ovum.

BYOD cuts across all industries, said Adrian Drury, consulting director at Ovum. "The big consumerisation challenge for IT is that you are in a competitive market now; people had to use what you gave them because there wasn't any other choice. That, of course, has all changed. If you're not being given the tools you need to get your job done, you'll go and find a way around that."

According to Ovum's research, around 30-35 percent of BYOD is invisible to IT. Although that represents an improvement on a couple of years ago, when the proportion was more like 50 percent, it still suggests that IT is failing to come to terms with the now well-established consumerisation trend.

Ovum found that more than half of staff are using a personal smartphone or tablet to access corporate data. But 62 percent of employees who use their own devices at work do not have a corporate IT policy governing that behaviour, the research commissioned by Samsung found.

"Employees are finding ways to do it whether IT knows about it or not," Drury said.

"Really what we are seeing is enterprise multi-screening in exactly the same way as we see multi-screening in the home. We are seeing multi-screening in the workplace [because] people just want to use the right screen at the right time to get the job done."

This desire for staff to use their own gadgets doesn't let employers off the hook when it comes to providing them with hardware, cautioned Drury, speaking at a Samsung-organised event.

"This is not about people wanting to use their own device or a particular device in a substitutional way, this is about using different screens in a complimentary way," he said. "If people are using their own laptop for work occassionally, that doesn't mean they don't want their business to provision them a device."

And it's not just hardware — nearly a quarter (22 percent) of full-time employees are finding their own file sync and share applications to use at work.

"That's an enormous amount of corporate data that's sitting up there that's completely unmanaged by IT, and that's happening because IT isn't giving them the tools to do their job," Drury warned.

Wearables in the workplace

While IT still struggles with smartphones and tablets, it will soon have to get to grips with wearables in the workplace too. In the consumer marketplace these will be sold as fashion and fitness-monitoring devices, but according to Drury it's actually business that has shown the most interest in developing useful applications for wearable devices.

"The place where we see the most interest is in the enterprise," said Drury, who added that there's a strong correlation between the organisations that have always bought ruggedised devices and those that are now interested in what new wearable tech platforms can do for them.

Across industries such as emergency services, logistics and agriculture, wearables could help workers be more productive by giving them access to vital information while keeping their hands free. Other potential uses for wearables being explored include patient safety monitoring and staff communications in healthcare.

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