Survey: S'pore execs tweak IT policies to attract talent

Compared with their global counterparts, executives in Singapore more open to tweaking IT policies to accommodate and attract talent, reveals new survey on consumerization of IT.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Compared to their counterparts across the globe, a higher percentage of executives here have changed their corporate policies governing the use of personal devices in the workplace as a way to attract young talent.

According to a survey commissioned by Avanade, 50 percent of respondents in Singapore said they had changed their IT policy to make their companies more appealing to the younger generation. This contrasted with the global percentage of 32 percent.

Conducted by Wakefield Research from October to November 2011, the survey polled 605 senior business and IT leaders from 17 countries in North America, Europe, South America and Asia, including 63 from Australia and Singapore. The findings were released Thursday in a report titled, "Dispelling Six Myths of Consumerization of IT".

In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, Craig Dower, president of Avanade Asia-Pacific, explained that the "war for talent" in Singapore is intense amid a national unemployment rate of around 2 percent, which is about four to five times lower than some countries in North America or Europe.

Dower also pointed to a previous research by Avanade which found that Singapore companies had different views on the use of social collaboration tools, compared to their North American and European counterparts. Western economies were more focused on using collaboration platforms for productivity improvement and cost reduction, while Singapore companies used such tools to retain staff as well as create new products and to innovate, he noted.

Based on past research, Dower added that companies here seem to have a more "sophisticated view" of IT which adoption has moved beyond reducing cost and into improving productivity and creating innovation opportunities.

Companies beginning to embrace IT consumerization
The survey also found that more companies were embracing the consumerization of IT. Some 89 percent of global respondents said their employees were already using personal computing technologies for business purposes, while 73 percent listed the growing use of personal devices as the company's top priority.

Dower explained: "A popular theme has been that there had been resistance to the consumerization of IT and proliferation of devices in and by IT departments. Our research suggested that we have now passed that.

"In fact, IT departments are not only enabling this but also becoming drivers of the change--making sure that they have the necessary infrastructure, tools and policies in place."

With mobility becoming an essential part of an organization, he noted that executives now recognize the need for certain employee groups to have the ability to from anywhere. He added that IT departments also realize they need to support the use of personal devices within the company.

The survey also found that companies allocated an average of 25 percent of their IT budgets toward managing personal devices in the workplace. A majority of the respondents, at 79 percent, also indicated plans to make new investments in the next 12 months to support the consumerization of IT.

The survey found that the types of devices entering the workplace were broad, with Google's Android, Research in Motion's BlackBerry and Apple iOS emerging as the top three platforms.

Among the top apps used by personal devices in the workplace were e-mail at 85 percent, social networking at 46 percent, customer relationship management (CRM) at 45 percent, time and expenses tracking at 44 percent, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) at 38 percent.

While the use of business-critical applications stood at under 50 percent, Dower noted that these were still "pretty big numbers" since not every employee would need access to CRM or ERP apps, compared to e-mail or social networking.

At 66 percent, security was leading risk cited by companies as a major concern of the consumerization of IT, followed by unmanaged data at 37 percent.

In fact, 55 percent of respondents said they suffered a security breach resulting from personal devices coming into the enterprise space. Some 81 percent of respondents noted that their current IT infrastructure would need improvements to address security concerns.

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