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Businesses play catchup as BYO tech takes off

Research has revealed a major disconnect between what devices Kiwi employees say they use for work purposes and what employers think staff are, in fact, using.

Research has revealed a major disconnect between what devices Kiwi employees say they use for work purposes and what employers think staff are, in fact, using.

The second annual Consumerisation of IT study suggests employees are bringing their own technology to work but that most of it is unofficial; workers consistently reported higher usage of tablets, iPhones and social media compared with bosses' perceptions – by up to two times in the case of iPads.

Half of smartphones and 44 percent of tablets used for business purposes were self-purchased, with the employee paying all usage charges.

New Zealand was one of nine countries surveyed for the report, conducted for Unisys for IDC, with responses from 200 workers and 25 IT department executives and managers.

Employers saw benefits in staff using their own technology, including cost-cutting, improved satisfaction and productivity, and freeing up hardware support, with nearly a quarter considering introducing a discount or stipend scheme to assist staff in purchasing their own devices.

But security concerns are a barrier for 87 percent of bosses, as are challenges in developing corporate policies (53 percent).

The longer they wait, however, the harder it will be to turn the trend to their advantage, warns Unisys New Zealand's managing director,

"By not taking quick action to proactively manage the growth of mobile technologies and social media in the workplace, many large organisations are letting change happen to them, rather than driving the use of consumer technology to their advantage,” said Brett Hodgson.

"The delay in action appears to be driven by a fear of perceived security risks and increased demand on IT resources compounded by no clear plan of what challenges to address first."

A key area of concern for large organisations is providing support for consumer technology, with 96 percent of employers saying they believe this would increase the workload on their IT department.

Most respondents said their companies had not yet implemented programmes to leverage these technologies due to limited resources and the scope of end-user demands.

Yet employers see the consumerisation trend as inevitable, with 88 percent saying they think tablets will become an integral part of the business. 

“The real power of the consumerisation of IT is not just the mobile devices, but rather the opportunity they provide for IT organisations to develop, modernise and integrate applications that can be used to make data available to users regardless of time or location," Hodgson said.

"Making applications work with mobile devices makes these mobile devices real business tools and also helps the organisation improve the efficiency of existing business processes or even create whole new business models.”

Hodgson said consumer devices lent themselves to self-service support such as portals, wikis and chatrooms.

"In fact, New Zealand employers report that already almost a quarter of their employees would troubleshoot personal-device issues themselves rather than go to the IT department. Such a self-service approach could relieve some of the organisational stress that impedes acceptance of the consumerisation of IT.”

BRIDGING THE GAP

  • * 8 percent of workers say they use iPads and other tablets for work, but employers say only 4 percent of their employees do so;
  • * 14 percent of workers say they use iPhones for work purposes, yet employers say only 11 percent of their workers do so;
  • * 37 percent of workers say they use social media for employee recruitment, while employers say only 24 percent of their employees do so;
  • * 37 percent of workers say they use social media for employee communication, but employers say only 17 percent of their workers do so.

FUTURE THINKING

  • * 59 percent  say desktop systems are now their most critical business devices, but 42 percent say that will still be the case in 2012
  • * 5 percent say smartphones are their most critical business device, but 10 percent say this will be true in 2012
  • * No respondents said tablets are their most critical business device, but 7 percent expect this to be true in 2012