Does anyone really believe IT departments are leading the charge for mobile and tablet adoption?

People in IT departments might like using tablets but that does not mean they are leading the charge to have consumerisation roll out across the rest of their organisations, writes Billy MacInnes.

This may have escaped your attention but a couple of weeks ago, Alfresco Software published the results of a global survey that seemed to have some pretty surprising results when it came to BYOD.

There we all were believing that consumerisation of IT and BYOD was being driven by consumers i.e. employees sneaking their devices into work under the noses of the IT department, but it transpires, according to the 2012 Global Tablet in the Enterprise survey, that mobile and tablet adoption is actually being led by the IT departments.

Survey saysWhat? IT departments? Aren’t they the very people being driven demented at having to incorporate BYOD into corporate IT strategies? At first glance, it would appear not.

The biggest percentage of respondents to the survey (56%) were from IT and most of them were in the 36 to 50 age bracket (59%). A total of nearly 92% of all respondents said they had used a tablet, 76% had used it for work purposes and just over 31% revealed they always took a tablet with them when travelling for work.

Given the large proportion of respondents in IT, Alfresco made the reasonable assumption that a significant proportion of people in IT departments were using tablets for work purposes. But the company’s suggestion that this demonstrated IT departments were “the real innovators responsible for enterprise tablet adoption” might be stretching it just a little bit.

Certainly, you could argue the findings are “counterintuitive to today’s existing enterprise media hype culture” as Alfresco CEO John Powell puts it, but you might also argue that IT departments are no different from any other part of the enterprise in terms of employees “bringing consumer technology into the workplace”.

Of course, the BYOD narrative usually depends on resourceful employees sneaking tablets and smartphones “under the radar of unwitting IT departments that are resistant to change”, but why shouldn’t that apply equally to people working in those IT departments?

In the main, our perception of BYOD and consumerisation of IT are being challenged by this survey because so many of the respondents work in IT. But it’s fair to say that if the survey had featured a much wider proportion of respondents from departments outside IT and the numbers in terms of overall tablet and smartphone usage had been pretty much the same, the conclusions would have been markedly different.

The only thing we can say with certainty is that in this particular survey, a significant proportion of people who work in IT in this sample have used tablets for work purposes. That doesn’t mean they are leading the charge for tablet adoption within their organisations and despite Alfresco’s best efforts, it most certainly doesn’t mean that “contrary to conventional ‘consumerisation of IT’ thinking, IT is both aware and excited about tablets and is actively thinking about the best use cases inside their companies”.

Just because people in IT use tablets, that doesn’t mean they are the pathfinders and evangelists for a major strategic shift towards implementing a BYOD policy within their organisation.

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