With the explosion of tablets and smartphones, employees increasingly want to use their own devices in the workplace. This is leading to a consumerisation of enterprise IT but there are many misconceptions about it and its implications for companies, a new report has found.
The biggest misconception is that companies are resisting the trend, according to the report, released by consulting and systems integration company Avanade.
The report is based on a worldwide survey of more than 600 chief information officers and finds that many of the assumptions about the consumerisation of IT are misplaced and, in some instances, even counterintuitive.
According to the report, 88% of executives worldwide report that employees are using their personal devices for business purposes and 60% of companies say they are adapting their IT infrastructure to accommodate this shift.
Manoj Bhoola, MD at Avanade SA, says that although the report doesn’t specify how many of those surveyed were from SA, in his discussions with local CIOs he is finding their answers tie up with the reports findings.
“Companies are embracing consumerisation because they see the benefits of it,” he says. “Today’s CIOs are younger and grew up with technology. They’re seeing benefits around productivity and around individuals having tools that are customised to their particular work styles.”
One of the perceived challenges of consumerisation is the ability to support all devices in-house, but Bhoola says many companies are finding they already have the required skills because of staff members’ interest in these technologies outside of the workplace.
Another misconception the report dismisses is that embracing consumerisation can be used to attract staff or retain them. The report found that less than a third of executives say they have company policies to entice younger employees and only 20% believe allowing people to bring their own devices to the workplace will benefit recruitment or retrenchment efforts.
Bhoola says many people assume that personal devices are used for company e-mail and little else, when in fact customer relations management, project management and time and expense tracking have been found to be major uses, too.
In SA, business intelligence is also proving a popular use for tablets and mobile phones. “Real-time BI is one of the driving factors in SA,” says Bhoola. He adds that companies are now designing their information systems with mobility in mind. “I want my device to give me information before I ask for it.”
Although many assume that Apple and its iPad and iPhone are the major drivers of IT consumerisation, Bhoola says Avanade has found that Android phones are actually the most common, and that personal BlackBerry handsets also remain surprisingly popular, particularly in SA.
Though some companies assume that the built-in security measures on devices are sufficient for enterprise use, Bhoola says this isn’t the case. He says security will remain the number-one concern for companies for the foreseeable future when it comes to the use of external devices.
“Consumerisation is a huge challenge to security and there has been the suggestion that it could limit the trend. But what we’re actually seeing is that there is a shift taking place in IT budgets, with more spending going to security, in part because a wider range of devices means there are more standards to meet.”
Bhoola says consumerisation is inevitable and will continue to grow. Rather than companies resisting, he says the greater challenge comes from the state and the regulator.
“In SA we need willingness from government and from [the Independent Communications Authority of SA] to facilitate this proliferation.”
He says the regulator and government have a key role to play in creating an environment where connectivity is cheap and ubiquitous and companies can embrace new technology free of regulatory or other constraints. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media