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BYOD 101: What are BYOD and the consumerization of IT?

An introduction to the consumerization of IT and 'bring your own device' (BYOD) schemes in the enterprise

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) refers to the trend of employees wanting to use their own smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in the workplace. With the consumer mobile market exploding, analysts say organisations of all sizes must develop BYOD strategies or risk employee dissatisfaction and security vulnerabilities.

What is driving BYOD?

The BYOD trend “stems from innovation in the consumer mobile space, driven by Apple and Google, outstripping that in the enterprise market,” says Ovum analyst Richard Absalom.

“The services that consumers own are more powerful and offer more capabilities than those supplied by their employees.”

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More smartphones and tablets are sold to consumers every year. In the first half of 2012, IDC saw a 10 per cent year-on-year shipment increase for smartphones and a 119 per cent increase for tablets, says IDC analyst Siow-Meng Soh. “BYOD is driven more strongly by the younger Gen-Y workers who are savvy with the use of devices and consumer applications.”

“The biggest driver is employee demand,” says Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda. “For many people, using their personal device for work is natural.”

Employees want to use a single device rather than one for work and one for home, says Absalom, citing results of a soon-to-be-published global study by Ovum. If employers don’t provide a device, employees want to use their own, he says. People believe they will be more productive with access to email and other business apps outside of working hours, he says.

What are the business benefits of BYOD?

“IT can sell real value in allowing people to use their personal devices since mobility increases productivity and the company knows that it is not going to buy everyone a corporate device,” says Gartner analyst Song Chuang. Also, with devices affordable and consumers eager to upgrade, BYOD enables organisations to better keep up with technological advancements, he says.

“Business calls and access to corporate email are by far the most common activities of those doing BYOD,” says Absalom, who cites increased productivity as a key benefit of BYOD.

“Businesses can make the most of the trend by giving employees access to a line of business apps that let them go beyond simple access to email and let them do their jobs better while on the move.”

Analysts say BYOD also increases job satisfaction, helping to attract and retain staff. “Gartner clients commonly report that the perception of IT improves substantially among users who opt into the BYOD program,” says Chuang.

It’s also a matter of bracing for the future, says Gedda. “Adopting a BYOD strategy will help prepare organisations for the inevitable onslaught of consumer devices in the workplace and also better prepare IT departments for managing the increasing amount of data on mobile devices—be they company-issued or personal.”

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