Employees use their own mobile devices and consumer-focused cloud services to do their jobs better -- without the help of IT. Understandably, IT pros see this trend as a loss of control over technology.
But by understanding the forces behind this sea change, IT can be part of the consumerization trend and use it to meet business needs.
Avanade Inc., which was started as a joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and Accenture, just released a survey of more than 600 enterprise executives and IT decision-makers examining the key points driving consumerization.
Some of the key points -- enterprises are embracing consumerization and they are investing in staff and resources to handle the change -- aren’t surprising. However, a few of Avanade’s points caused my eyebrows to furl.
The major surprise of the survey is that respondents said BYOD is not a strong recruitment or retention tool for young workers -- the millennials, if you will. Rather, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said BYOD is driven by the need for employees to work from anywhere and during off hours.
This suggests that BYOD isn’t a trend driven by young people who want to sit around and gawk at their friends’ Facebook status updates or cruise the thorny jungle of Twitter. Instead, BYOD ultimately has more to do with the changing nature of work in America and businesses wanting to exploit that. Technology has made it possible for the traditional workplace to be mercurial. Employees get the benefit of working from home, but business benefits from employees being on the clock beyond nine and five.
Avanade says Android leads the pack followed by BlackBerry and then Apple. However, factoring laptops and tablets into BYOD gave Apple a huge advantage in device preference.
With RIM’s slow demise, Google's move towards the dark side and Apple’s latest ridonkulous quarterly results -- the second greatest of any American company next to ExxonMobil’s fall of 2008 -- don’t be surprised if Apple runs away from the pack.
And just what are employees doing on their mobile enterprise devices? It’s not just email and web browsing. Enterprise applications from CRM to ERP are finding their way to personal devices.
But, most people aren’t very productive with their mobile devices because those devices haven’t been optimized to do much more than browse the web, check email, scope out Facebook, etc.
In the next few years that could all change as mobile devices become integral tools in enterprises.
“If you go back ten years and think about buying something from Amazon, that might have been a 30 minute exercise,” McClune says. “On a mobile phone or on the website it takes no time because that function has been optimized. It’ll be the same thing with business apps on mobile devices soon.”
Mobile device (in)security
If you take one thing away from this survey, it should be that mobile device security breaches stem from employee behavior.
A business might have great mobile device management and all the necessary security in place, but there is a breach because some employee left their phone sitting on the bar, McClune said.
“A lot of this comes from loss and theft of mobile devices,” he said. “Looking realistically at what’s required of security, there needs to be more training on best practices to secure enterprise infrastructure.”
So while consumerization has plenty of benefits for employees and businesses, BYOD shouldn’t be instituted without careful planning and employee training.