IT Challenged by Consumer Devices, Apps

— October 16, 2012

New research conducted by Forrester Consulting for Unisys Corporation reveals a deepening divide between increasingly mobile information workers and the enterprise IT departments that support them.

The third-annual “Consumerization of IT” survey, conducted by Forrester and Unisys, shows that this divide is being driven by a class of super-connected, tech-savvy mobile workers who are defying IT policies by using unsupported, “bring your own” devices (BYOD) and apps to get work done and serve customers on the front lines of business.

Unisys calls these workers the “mobile elite,” and while they are pushing the envelope of innovation and change within their organizations, they are also creating fresh support and security challenges for IT departments still adjusting to BYOD environments.

“This year’s research shows that the consumerization charge is being led by the mobile elite who are using the latest technologies to better serve customers and help their organizations succeed, regardless of whether those technologies are officially supported and sanctioned,” says Fred Dillman, Unisys CTO.

Rather than fighting this trend, Dillman believes that CIOs and IT decision makers should look at the behavior of the mobile elite to understand which of their approaches provide real innovation and differentiation for the organization, and then craft mobile infrastructures accordingly.

Widening Gap
The 2012 research is based on responses from two separate but related surveys conducted in nine countries.  One study surveyed some 2,600 information workers (iWorkers) within organizations to gauge their use of consumer technologies in the workplace. The second study polled 590 business and IT executives to better understand their views and support of these technologies.

Home Tech is Better than Work Tech
The research shows that the “bring your own” trend continues to accelerate in the workplace, and is spreading beyond devices to personal apps. iWorkers responding reveal:

  • 43% use three or more devices for work
  • 44% use smartphones, with about one-third of them being purchased by the employees
  • 15% use tablet computers for work, with more than half of those tablets bought personally
  • 68% of tablet users and 63% of smartphone users cite convenience as the reason they use these technologies for work
  • Nearly 40% use an unsupported “bring your own” app or cloud service, such as personal email, file-sharing service or video conferencing, for work
  • 62% of 18-31 year-olds (Gen Y+Z) and 54% of 32-45 year-olds (Gen X) say the technology they have at home is better than what they have at work
Need or Want?
iWorkers and IT decision makers view the business value of these consumer technologies quite differently, and have different views of corporate support for personally owned technologies in the workplace.
  • 56% of iWorkers say that they use unsupported personal devices or apps for work because they need the capabilities and their organization does not provide an alternative
  • However, 72% of IT executives surveyed say that employees are making use of unsupported devices or apps because of personal preference, not because they need to do critical work
  • 64% of iWorkers say that they would troubleshoot the problem themselves or contact a friend first, and only 21% would make the IT department the first point of contact for resolution
  • However, 61% of IT decision-makers believe that their employees will contact the company IT department first when they encounter a problem with a personal device they use for work
  • Despite this expectation, fewer IT respondents – 17% in 2012 vs. 18% in 2011 – say that their firms provide high levels of support for employee-owned smartphones and tablets
Mobile Elite Workers Setting the Pace
The “mobile elite” comprise 23% of the total iWorker respondents, and are those who make intensive use of multiple personally-owned devices and apps to get work done.

The research found that the mobile elite are more likely than average iWorkers to report using consumer technologies to be more productive, serve customers and drive innovation:
  • 58% of mobile elites spend their own money to buy personal technology to do their jobs, compared to 27 % of average iWorkers
  • 67% of mobile elites say that use of personal devices or apps makes them more productive and efficient, compared to 43% of average iWorkers
  • More than one-third of the mobile elite say that BYOD and BYOA (apps) allows them to better serve customers and collaborate with colleagues, compared to 24% of average iWorkers
  • 43% of mobile elite workers say they recently participated in a work-based innovation program, versus 33% of average iWorkers
  • 37% of mobile elite respondents say that they recently convinced their management to significantly change a work process, compared to 27% of average iWorkers
Creating New Enterprise Risks
In their zeal to be more productive and service-centric, mobile elite workers — whether intentionally or not — may be opening up new management, support and security risks for their organizations.  

Mobile elite workers are more than three times as likely as average iWorkers to download unauthorized apps to get work done. In fact, 82% report having done this, despite the fact that 75% of IT decision makers say they consider downloading unauthorized software for work as grounds for dismissal.

IT organizations may not be prepared to address the risks being created by their highly connected, mobile employees.
  • 54% of IT decision makers say that their organizations have inadequate tools or missing policies to secure employee-owned smartphones
  • 71% of IT respondents say that they have implemented password-based solutions as the primary means of user authentication, or plan to do so over the next 12 months
  • Percentages were far lower for planned use of more sophisticated means of security, including attached-device authentication (22%) and facial biometrics (12%)
Looking ahead, 67% of IT decision makers surveyed say that enhancing mobile security is a high or critical priority over the next 12 months.

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