One third of smartphone owners go BYOD behind IT department's back

Staff are continuing to use their smartphones and tablets at work without the sanction of the IT department a survey finds, with businesses being warned not to take a 'King Canute' approach on BYOD.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Staff continue to use their own smartphones and tablets at work without the sanction of the company's IT department.

Out of 4,371 employees surveyed worldwide by analyst house Ovum, just over half — 56.8 percent — were using personal devices at work.

The proportion of users practicing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) was almost unchanged from an Ovum survey last year, the Ovum BYOX: World Forum 2013 in London was told today.

The majority of staff who own a smartphone or tablet used them at work, about 70 percent, with more than one third of employees who used their smartphone at work doing so without the knowledge of IT or in spite of a workplace ban on personal devices.

"If you take the King Canute approach and try and drive that behaviour underground you just lose control of it," said Adrian Drury, practice leader for consumer impact IT with Ovum.

Yet BYOD is still a no-no for a sizeable proportion of employees; while about 45 percent want to use a single phone at work and at home almost half, 45 per cent, believe the practice threatens to give managers an excuse to expect them work in their personal time.

And while BYOD may be common among smartphone and tablet owners, the majority of people using personal devices are only doing so for the occasional task rather than as their personal work device, the survey found.

Drury said the fact personal devices were only being used for the occasional task didn't remove the need for businesses to put policies in place to tackle the various security, compliance and financial challenges that BYOD poses. Just over one third of employees, 39 percent, said their companies had a policy supporting personal smartphone use at work.

When it comes to having a BYOD policy Drury said: "Now is the time to grasp the nettle. BYOD is not going away and it is modifying into Bring Your Own Apps."

"Bring Your Own Apps" is where an employee sources software they use at work themselves, rather than relying on corporately-sanctioned apps.

Overall, only a minority of employees surveyed are sourcing their own apps – 25 percent choosing their own enterprise social network, 22 percent file sync and 31 percent IM or VOIP apps.

However, of those employees who use enterprise social networks at work about half are sourcing their apps for this purpose.

"Employees are finding their own applications, it tells us that IT is not keeping up providing the tools that employees need to do their job," Drury said.

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