About 30% of UK IT departments are incorporating smartphone and tablet initiatives in their strategies for 2012 as workers increasingly use the devices for work purposes.
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A Computer Weekly and TechTarget survey of more than 2,500 IT professionals worldwide revealed that 28.9% plan to introduce initiatives to use smartphones in the business, while 30.3% will enable the use of tablet PCs.
The results are evidence that 2012 promises to be a big year in the maturity of mobile technology in business.
The year of BYOD
Demand from workers to use the same technology at work and at home is driving the take-up of schemes in business to make this possible. Bring your own device (BYOD) programmes formalise the use of smartphones and tablets at work and enable businesses to reap the benefits while retaining control.
One of the benefits of schemes to enable staff to use their own devices reduced costs. In September 2008, Citrix introduced a bring your own computer (BYOC) scheme and made it initially available to 10% of its total workforce of over 5,000. The scheme, under which the company pays for the device the worker chooses, is now available to all staff and has been taken up by 20% of the company's staff worldwide.
Citrix said it measured the cost of a provided laptop versus the cost of running the scheme, and found that over a three-year period the saving has been about 20%.
Staff loyalty bonus
But it is not just about cost savings. Giving staff the technology they want will help businesses attract and retain employees.
In its "Future of Work" initiative, IT services firm Cognizant said the "Millennial" mindset will change how people communicate in work and with customers, and businesses will have to cater for this or risk losing staff to the companies that can offer them the technology they want at work.
Even if the perceived benefits are not enough to convince businesses to try out BYOD schemes, they are being forced to manage multiple devices as mob rule dictates. A recent survey of 200 enterprise CIOs, carried out by CIO Connect, revealed 67% of CIOs believe IT users are now one of the most powerful drivers of change in enterprises.
According to research commissioned by Cisco and carried out by Redshift Research, 48% of the 1,500 IT managers in Europe and North America surveyed said their businesses would never authorise the use of employees’ own devices. But it also revealed that 57% believed workers were using their own devices without permission.
Mobile device management
The Computer Weekly/TechTarget research revealed that IT departments are reacting to this. A total of 21.1% of IT professionals are planning to carry out mobile device management initiatives this year. A total of 26.1% said they are planning mobile security projects.
Sean Harley, director of technology operations at information services provider Sky IQ, said the cost savings and productivity benefits brought by staff using their own mobile devices are reasons why the company has a strategy to support it.
He said mobile device management and security are key for these projects to work.
The firm is currently going through a proof of concept for a mobile device management solution and is working with a supplier to provide two-factor authentication on iPads.
“If people are bringing devices in and connecting to corporate applications, there is a security risk if the device is lost.”