BYOD is certainly one of the biggest technology buzzwords right now. The concept of users supplying their own iPad, iPhone, or even their own MacBook can create challenges for IT, but it can also provides advantages. Users choosing the devices and apps that they feel most comfortable and productive using is one. Businesses not needing to pay for mobile devices themselves or plans to support them is another.
One of the basic assumptions when it comes to considering, testing, and implementing a BYOD program is that the ability to bring personal tools into the workplace is something that users ultimately want and think will improve their work. The rest of the discussion, including practical issues like device or data management and the range of devices to be support, is predicated on this core assumption that BYOD is desirable on the part of users.
But what if that isn’t really the case? According to a report based on research in Australia and New Zealand, that may not be the case and it may actually be a form of peer pressure driving the BYOD revolution more than pressure from users.
The report, based on analysis by research firm IDC, doesn’t take a pro or con viewpoint on the concept of BYOD itself and it doesn’t focus on the technical or political challenges that BYOD creates within IT departments. It’s oriented around determining where the pressure to consider or implement BYOD programs is coming from more than the ultimate impact that BYOD can have on a company.
“However, there is a disconnect between the assumptions and expectations held by CIOs and IT decision makers — and commonly by supply-side organizations — and the majority of employees when it comes to consumer technologies, device usage, and responsibility,” IDC analyst Amy Cheah noted based on the firm’s research. “IDC’s Next Generation Workspace Ecosystem research has found that only two out of ten employees want to use their own device for work and for personal use, which means corporate devices are still desired by the majority.”
While there may be an expectation gap between management, IT, and end users when it comes to BYOD, 20% of a workforce is still a significant number of individuals. The numbers are also likely to vary on a variety of factors including industry, job functions, and other demographic factors like employee age ranges.
That said, it does mean that some companies are likely better off investigating what they want to get out of BYOD and whether they’re likely to achieve those results (cost-cutting is often cited as a goal but depending on mobile device and data management options and other factors, BYOD can be more expensive and require more IT resources than a corporate device model). It’s also paramount to gauge user interest and comfort with BYOD – is there interest overall and are employees comfortable with management systems that might be imposed on their devices.
Another factor that this report highlights is that the BYOD trend shouldn’t be considered synonymous with IT consumerization, which can include company-owned and managed iPads and other devices as well as personal cloud services and the use of social media in the workplace as well as other technologies.
Ultimately, this report doesn’t say that BYOD isn’t desirable or that it’s the wrong path for most companies. What it does encourage, however, is serious consideration of the what the goals are when exploring BYOD. Those goals should be based on facts not just assumptions and they should be use as metrics in any test or pilot project.