infoTECH Feature

June 05, 2013

Ovum Says BYOD is a Fact of Enterprise Life - Urges CIOs to Respond with a Clear Strategy

The widely followed work of U.K.-based Ovum (News - Alert) carries a lot of weight. To paraphrase an old tagline, “When Ovum talks, people listen!” And the audience at the company’s BYOX World Forum certainly had a lot to listen to, as Ovum unveiled some of the findings of its 2013 multi-market BYOX (bring-your-own-anything) employee study.

The big headline here was the finding that BYOD activity by full-time employees (FTEs) has been roughly steady at almost 60 percent over the past two years. This led to Ovum’s analysts highly, one could say urgently, recommending that business leaders “respond and adapt now to this change in employee behaviour, rather than being steamrollered by it.”

The devils are in the report details and justify a call to action

The survey gathered responses from 4,371 consumers across 19 different countries and a wide range of verticals and job roles. The only criteria were that respondents be employed full-time in an organization with over 50 employees. This means the results are a sample of professionals, not the population as a whole. With that as context, it should surprise nobody that what Ovum calls the “BYOX phenomenon” is not going away and is here for good.

  • Nearly 70 percent of employees who own a smartphone or tablet choose to use it to access corporate data
  • The personal tablet market is on the march with ownership by FTEs rising from 28.4 percent to 44.5 percent over the last 12 months
  • This activity will continue whether the CIO wants it to or not

Ovum’s study also showed that:

  • 67.8 percent of smartphone-owning employees bring their own smartphone to work
  • 15.4 percent do so without the IT department’s knowledge
  • 20.9 percent do so in spite of an anti-BYOD policy

“Trying to stand in the path of consumerized mobility is likely to be a damaging and futile exercise,” said Richard Absalom, consumer impact technology analyst at Ovum. “We believe businesses are better served by exploiting this behavior to increase employee engagement and productivity, and promote the benefits of enterprise mobility.”

So what are we all doing with our devices when we use them at work?

Ovum’s research found that while e-mail and calendar remain the most commonly used applications on corporately provisioned and personally owned devices, the list of things we like to do is exploding. It cited usage of new-generation cloud productivity applications, such as enterprise social networking, file sync and share and IM/VoIP, as growing fast.  

What troubled the analysts was that these apps are increasingly being sourced by employees themselves and not through managed corporate channels. This is problematic to say the least, as it was revealed that:

  • 25.6 percent of employees discovered their own enterprise social networking apps
  • 22.1 percent discovered their own file sync and share apps
  • 30.7 percent found their own IM/VoIP apps

“The thread that runs through all of the data is that IT is not keeping up with the changing demands and behavior patterns of the new mobilized, consumerized workforce. Nowhere is this clearer than in the BYOA [bring-your-own-apps] data. If employees are sourcing their own applications to do their job, then IT is not delivering the right tools or a good enough user experience for its employees,” Absalom concluded.

The Ovum research validates what I have been calling “IT Anarchy,” and that it is afoot as a result of BYOD. They correctly state that BYOD is a fact of modern corporate life, and the fact that IT is not keeping up as the enterprise becomes more mobile and all of those uncontrolled personal devices create numerous vectors of vulnerability that need to be addressed now.

I would like to point out that all of this is the subject of TMC’s (News - Alert) one-day Secure Mobility Conference that will be held July 23, 2013 at the Kimmel Center on the NYU campus in New York City. The diversity of stakeholder interests will be represented by some of the most important companies in the industry along with IT professionals on the front lines. The industry as Ovum states is at a tipping point and the conversation as to where we are and what the path forward should be for all involved has never been more timely or important.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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