Recent research by Gartner has indicated that by 2017, half of all employers will require employees to supply their own devices at work. As these companies seek to reduce hardware costs and increase mobility and innovation, they are also battling the resulting onslaught of personal devices in the work environment —and the issues they bring.
However, even though it is happening —and quickly—few enterprises are at the point of managing it successfully. Independent research from, by Research Now, has shown that 55% of employees cite their company as having no definite BYOD policies. An additional 21% of employees are unsure whether they exist.
Beyond just the immediate issues of support, data security and cross-platform application deployment, these also include privacy, reimbursement, role-based policies and regulatory and human resource compliance. But most of all, companies aren’t truly prepared to take advantage of the powerful computing transformation that BYOD enables—the ability to innovate on new applications and solutions.
Enterprise Apps Missing the Mark
The research shows that the majority haven’t considered the impact —and growing necessity — of providing useful mobile applications for employees. Email and calendar access are baseline expectations for today’s mobile workers, but smartphones and tablets offer tremendous capabilities for rich application experiences. However, fewer than 10% of employees report being directed to use specific apps from a dedicated enterprise app store.
For those companies that do create customized apps, the unfortunate reality is that employees don’t like them. The reason? Simply put: poor user experience (UX). Sixty percent of employees claim low satisfaction with the functioning of the apps. Low satisfaction with these corporate apps even reaches the point that workers’ productivity suffers, at least according to 25% percent of smartphone users and 19% of tablet users surveyed.
The most troubling result of providing less than satisfactory mobile experiences for employees is that employees will just go rogue: 64% of employees have reported downloading apps of their own choice from public app stories to use at work, and putting corporate security at risk.
Why does this matter? Because doing so opens the door to huge corporate privacy risks such as unprotected, unsecured company data that can be lost or compromised; in other words, those security risks that keep IT people up at night. But most importantly, companies are missing the opportunity to introduce rich mobile experiences which engage users as much as the consumer applications they know and love. And that hampers transformation and innovation.
Clear Skies Ahead
Greater employee app engagement is possible—but enterprises must pay attention. Here are four ways to start reducing rogue usage, improve the management of BYOD policies, fortify their businesses against security risks, and drive efficiencies, productivity and innovation:
1. Mirror best practices from consumer-facing apps. Business-to-enterprise app developers should have similar goals as consumer app developers: providing well-designed, engaging apps that are intuitive and simple to use across devices.
2. Identify user personas and use cases before conceiving and building B2E apps. Some individuals are more willing to share personal data —such as their email address, social logins and location. In the end for employees, privacy trumps personalization. So, while improving the overall experience is important, it’s also imperative to identify the point at which employees are willing to give up privacy in order to gain a better app capability.
3. Design appealing user experiences, combined with rich functionalities. Consumer apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are perpetually updating to increase attractiveness and create rich interactions for their users. Think about ways this can be done within your specific organization.
4. Ensure integration with other Web and backend applications, databases and systems. The more an enterprise can simplify and automate business processes within corporately-developed applications, the greater number of employees will buy-in to using them on a daily basis.
Companies have a choice: They can take a reactive approach and look at BYOD as a necessary evil that just needs to be managed and secured at all costs despite sacrifices to user experience. Or, they can be proactive, and view a BYOD approach as an avenue to open up the rich, new user experiences that today’s powerful mobile devices are capable of delivering.