New Study says U.S. Leading in BYOD Agreements

By Peter Bernstein November 28, 2012

To say that a lot of words have been expended on the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomena would have to be one of the biggest under-statements of this year. What has been interesting about watching all things BYOD is that while there is a growing body of detailed info about device sales, and memes on how to accommodate BYOD users inside of enterprise networks, there has been surprisingly little about employee behavior regarding BYOD, especially as it relates to its adoption by market types/regions. To get to the proverbial bottom of the matter international IT solutions and managed service provider Logicalis asked renowned research firm Ovum to take a look.  What they found is illuminating.

They had me with the lead

What drew me into this was the first paragraph of an E-Mail I got from Logicalis. It stated that Ovum had found: “Aspiring employees in high-growth markets are embracing the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon and the benefits of enterprise mobility in greater numbers than those in mature markets.” It went on to say, “Driving this trend is the predisposition of professionals in high-growth markets to ‘live to work’ and the lower rate of corporate provisioning of mobile handsets and tablets.”

I wanted to know more especially after the following results from the report, BYOD: an emerging market trend in more ways than one, were revealed as part of what is being billed as the largest study ever conducted into employee BYOD behavior and attitudes

·Across 17 markets3, 57.1 percent of full-time employees engage in some form of BYOD.

·When broken down by market, there is a clear trend: 75 percent of respondents in the emerging “high-growth” markets (including Brazil, Russia, India, UAE and Malaysia) demonstrate a much higher propensity to use their own devices at work, compared to 44 percent in more mature markets.

 Ovum’s research suggests that employees in high-growth markets see BYOD as a way to get ahead in their careers, with 79 percent believing that constant connectivity to work applications enables them to do their jobs better, compared to 53.5 percent in mature markets.

“Employees in high-growth, emerging economies are demonstrating a more flexible attitude to working hours, and are happy to use their own devices for work. However, in mature markets, employees have settled into comfortable patterns of working behavior,” explains Richard Absalom, consumer impact IT analyst at Ovum. “This behavior will shape not just future patterns of enterprise mobility in high-growth markets compared to mature markets, but also dictate which markets, structurally, are going to benefit most from this revolution in how and where we work.”

The embedded infographic below is a good summary of the report’s highlights.

The U.S. is ahead on getting a grip on BYOD in the enterprise

While the research shows that employees in emerging markets are embracing the BYOD trend in greater numbers than in more mature markets like the U.S. today, U.S. IT departments are leading the way in terms of managing BYOD. Among all geographies surveyed, U.S. employees are the most likely to have signed a BYOD policy at work; in fact, the research shows that 30.6 percent of U.S. employees using their own devices at work report having signed such a corporate policy governing BYOD.

Mark Kelly, Logicalis vice president of Communication & Collaboration, says the BYOD trend in the U.S. has been building for some time, and while the number of employees jumping on the BYOD bandwagon may be less than emerging markets, the interest from corporate IT professionals in managing these devices throughout the U.S. is strong. “Managing the risks associated with employees using their own devices at work, including the ability of these employees to download and transport sensitive, mission-critical company data beyond the control of the CIO and IT department, is a phenomenon that has quickly grown to a critical mass and is garnering widespread attention throughout the United States,” Kelly explains. “It is becoming clear that the BYOD movement, while aiding in the success of businesses nationwide and, in fact, around the globe, is also a security and IT risk that must be managed by corporate IT professionals.”

For those who have been following BYOD trends, the latter finding shows how far we have come in a relatively short period of time. After all the literature was filled with anti-BYOD sentiment from IT professionals just a few months ago, and suffice it to say skeptics remain despite the exploding number of C-levels around the world who literally are running their companies from their smartphones and particularly their tablets.

The authors note that while it’s promising to see IT departments coming to grips with, and encouraging, BYOD behavior, they warn businesses that too much BYOD activity is still going unmanaged. They point out that of those respondents who bring their own devices to work, 17.7 percent claim that their employer’s IT department does not know, while a further 28.4 percent of respondents’ IT departments actively ignore it is happening.

 “Unmanaged BYOD creates a great data security risk, and the implications of losing sensitive data via a personally owned device can be dire from financial, reputational and legal perspectives. Every business must understand the behavior of its own employees, which, as we have seen, is likely to be influenced by its location, and manage it according to its risk profile,” concludes Absalom.

A lot of work remains

The importance of the report, along with the work Logicalis is doing in the area to help IT professionals tame the beast, is its highlighting of how far we still have to go in mitigating the risks BYOD presents without proper management of devices, he people who use them and the applications they run. While admittedly self-evident given the security threats posed by unauthorized individual device and people access and the real dangers of rogue apps to the entire enterprise, it does seem that the “socialization” of IT has the end users far out in front of the IT departments in terms of the desire to use their devices despite the risks and IT department abilities to assure the security of their operations. 

Hopefully when similar research is done a year from now there will be an indication that IT has turned the tide and literally and figuratively has things under control.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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