European businesses embrace consumer tech

A survey has claimed companies in Europe are more willing to let staff use consumer-based technology than those in any other region

European companies are more willing for staff to use consumer-based technology than those in any other region. There may also be a relationship between liberal technology-use policies and a willingness to outsource.

Nearly half (48 percent) of companies that allow employees to use their own technology and provide IT support for these personal applications and devices are in Europe, according to a report from research house IDG Research Services Group on behalf of IT services company Unisys. This compares with only 17 percent in South America and 10 percent in North America, according to the survey of 686 enterprises.

The survey also found companies that allow employees to use non-corporate hardware and software have a greater ratio of remote workers, with 47 percent of these personal technology-friendly companies supporting employees working offsite, versus 34 percent overall.

Of companies that allow consumer-based technology — such as an employee's own laptop, PDA or mobile, as well as software commonly barred by IT departments (such as instant messaging) — 65 percent are looking to outsource their end-user services within the next six months to two years.

This compares to only 38 percent of businesses that are not pursuing a consumerisation programme looking to outsource in the same time period.

Paul Bevan, director of field marketing for outsourcing at Unisys, said consumerisation is a massive issue for companies and should be embraced by chief information officers because the pressure on both business and IT for speed and agility is making it unfeasible to limit staff to a small list of IT tools.

Bevan added that the development of Web 2.0 and the emergence of Facebook are landmarks for employers, and chief information officers should be thinking about how consumerisation could best fit their enterprise.

But the use of consumer-based technology such as games consoles, instant messaging, smartphones and web email by employees is one of the most significant threats to corporate IT security, according to analysts. Blogs, social-networking tools and other Web 2.0 technologies pose the risk of information leaks or acting as channels for malicious software and viruses.