Consumer technology takes away the 'big company' advantage

IDC research suggests SMBs are adopting the 'bring your own device' concept quickly, helping them gain productivity and efficiency advantages against larger enterprises.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

I have long believed that the true breakthroughs for mobile technologies over the past decade have been inspired by the way that small businesses use notebooks, smartphones and various cloud-delivered applications to run their companies. This isn't because these managers were necessarily smarter or more creative than their counterparts in big businesses, it is because they were far more resourceful -- often out of necessity.

If you think about it, this whole "bring your own device" phenomenon that you have been hearing so much about for the past year was pioneered and driven in large part by small businesses.

The reason is pretty simple: When small-business owners buy notebook computers, they don't just buy them for their business, they buy them for personal needs, too. That is why consumer features such as support for super high-quality video have made their way into business notebook models. The same goes for smartphones. Seriously, who wants two phone numbers? Not me, and not you. So why wouldn't a small business owner or manager pick something that can work in both worlds? It has only been more recently that larger companies have begun to catch on.

Market research firm International Data Corp. has released a new report this week that suggests the consumerization of information technology is helping level the playing field for small and midsize businesses around the world. The study ("Consumerization of IT in SMBs Worldwide: Developing Countries Outpace Developed Ones in Leveraging Employee-Owned Technology") suggests that worker-owned technology is having its biggest impact right now in small companies outside the United States. These businesses are taking advantage of every productivity tool that they can find, IDC suggests.

Said Ray Boggs, the IDC analyst who focuses on SMB technology usage:

"To remain competitive and increase efficiency, SMBs in developing countries are leveraging workers' own technologies. Despite the potential security risks, these SMBs continue to allow employees to gain access to the company network and related resources through their own devices."

Here are several revelations from the report:

  • Midsize companies have been more adapt in adoption of "advance mobile devices"
  • SMBs based in China are most likely to support strategies that let employees use their own technology
  • About one-third of the small businesses in developed economies allow network access for employee-owned devices; approximately 47 percent of midsize companies do the same

For the purposes of the report, IDC studied six countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China and Brazil.

As larger companies grapple with how to manage and secure employee-owned devices, SMBs are charging forward. This strategy is fraught with risk, of course, but for smaller companies sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Isn't that part of the definition of entrepreneur?

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